Energy and Environmental Engineering
Research in this area covers a wide range of topics including the development of technology to produce clean fuels; work related to hydrogen production, storage and transportation; fuel cells; batteries; water and air pollution control technologies; microfluidic system for environmental solute detection; CO2 utilisation, sequestration and monitoring; computational modelling of contaminant dispersion in both liquid and gas phases.
Some of the specific examples of work include but not limited to development of portable water purification system, application of plasma technology for treatment of emerging pollutants in water, application of photo-catalysis for treatment of water and indoor air, development of membrane based sensor for monitoring CO2 in the subsurface, use of solid waste for generating bioenergy; life cycle analysis.
Activities we address include but are not limited to:
- Low temperature PEM and alkaline fuel cells
- Direct alcohol fuel cells
- Metal-air batteries
- Lithium-ion and hybrid batteries
- Redox flow batteries
- Photo-electro-chemical hydrogen production
- CO2 conversion to liquid fuels
- Production of solar fuels from reduction of CO2
- Green H2 and electricity from photo and microbial fuel cells, combined with solar detoxification
- Water Detoxification Reuse and Disinfection
- Process Intensification and Photoreaction Engineering
- Fluid Mixing
- Dispersion of nanomaterials in liquids
- Process design and scale up
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Electrocatalysts for energy
Atomically dispersed metal–nitrogen–carbon (MNC) materials have been regarded as the most promising catalysts for many energy conversion and storage technologies, thanks to their unique properties and exceptionally high catalytic performance. However, their state-of-the-art preparation has heavily relied on costly precursors and rigid conditions, yet still resulting in low loadings of the atomically dispersed metal.
We proposed and demonstrated a general, simple yet highly efficient and readily scalable synthesis method based on liquid formamide chemistry for low-cost preparation of atomically dispersed MNC nanomaterials, and employed them as electrocatalysts for two exemplified key reactions in fuel cells and carbon dioxide utilization. The generality of the methodology has been validated by the synthesis of a large family of single-, bi- and tri-metallic atomically dispersed MNC materials.
The currentmethod can be adapted to prepare vast varieties of atomically dispersed MNC materials, with adjustable metal components and coated on various substrates, for a wide range of energy and environmental electrocatalysis and more general heterogeneous catalysis applications.
Professor Wen-Feng Lin
Energy and Environmental Science, 2019 DOI: 10.1039/c9ee00162j.
Ozonolysis of lignocellulosic biomass using low energy microplasma reactors
Rising concern over depleting fossil fuel and greenhouse gas emissions from fuel combustion has led to a high level of interest in biofuel production, in particular bio-ethanol. Currently, the main producers of bioethanol use food crops as the main raw material. However, use of food sources for biofuel production is not sustainable and research efforts are now shifting to lignocellulosic biomass as a renewable source of fermentable carbohydrate which does not compete directly with food production.
In this project, we will investigate the feasibility of applying a novel ozonolysis pre-treatment method for various lignocellulosic feedstocks. We will use a recently developed microplasma reactor for producing ozone at room temperature and atmospheric pressure that consumes less power compared to conventional methods for this purpose. - Dr Hemaka Bandulasena
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