Energy conversion and storage are more important today than at any time in human history. Our research interests focus primarily on design and synthesis of nanostructured materials for solving critical issues in development of new generation energy storage and solar fuel production systems. In our lab, we combine our expertise in catalysis, materials science and electrochemistry, and by doing so are able to address the most exciting scientific challenges that occur in the field of energy conversion and storage. Breakthrough in this field is crucial for us to tackle global warming by providing the society with clean, sustainable, and environmental friendly energy supplies.
Congratulations to Wesley for winning the 2017 Bill N. Baron Fellowship Award for his contribution to the solar energy field. The award will be presented at 2017 College Recognition of Academic Honors & Achievements Ceremony on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at Mitchell Hall.
By finding new catalysts for selective and efficient conversion of biomass-derived products to industrially relevant chemicals and fuels, a transition from fossil fuel feedstocks may be achieved. Furfural is a platform chemical which may be converted to multiple heterocyclic and ring-opening products, but to date there have been few catalysts which enable selective hydrodeoxygenation to 2-methylfuran. In this work, we present a self-supported nanoporous Cu–Al–Co ternary alloy catalyst with high furfural hydrodeoxygenation activity toward 2-methylfuran, achieving up to 66.0% selectivity and 98.2% overall conversion at 513K with only 5% Co composition. The results have been published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.
Congratulations to Wesley for winning the 2017 Kokes Award for the 25th North American Catalysis Society (NACS) meeting in Denver, CO.
Our group is receiving a grant from the US Department of Energy to develop a technology, which allows us to convert CO2 captured in the flue gas into high-value alcohols. So excited! A news story about this grant was just released by UDaily and the official DOE announcement can be found here.
Molecular level understanding of the role of bicarbonate in increasing CO2 reduction rates is an important topic, while the lack of in-situ tools make it difficult to directly probe the electrochemical interface. Together with the Xu lab and other collaborators, we developed a protocol to observe normally invisible reaction intermediates with a surface enhanced spectroscopy by applying square-wave potential profiles. Further, we demonstrate that bicarbonate, through equilibrium exchange with dissolved CO2, rather than the supplied CO2, is the primary source of carbon in the CO formed at the Au electrode by a combination of in-situ spectroscopic, isotopic labeling, and mass spectroscopic investigations. We propose that bicarbonate enhances the rate of CO production on Au by increasing the effective concentration of dissolved CO2 near the electrode surface through rapid equilibrium between bicarbonate and dissolved CO2. The results have been published in JACS.