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Catalysis for new energy technologies


    The catalyst properties can be manipulated by changing surface compositions, sizes, shapes and morphologies of metal clusters. The research in the group has been focused on synthesis of metal clusters with different sizes, and shapes and core-shell nanoparticles in a control manner. Surface reduction method was developed to prepare the surface alloys. Hydratalcites have been used as the catalyst precursors to prepare the nanoparticles confined in cages to enhance the catalyst stability.  Carbon nanomaterials have been investigated as catalyst supports. The core-shell structured Al2O3@CeO and ZrO oxides were found to be very stable supports.


    The design and optimization of catalytic processes lies very much on the detailed understanding of reactions at molecular level. Temperature programmed desorption and surface reaction, steady-state isotopic transient kinetic analysis, microcalorimetric measurements are examples of the experimental investigations. The group has been cooperated very closely with computational chemistry groups at NTNU, MIT, East China University of Science and Technologies on first principles study and reactive force field molecular dynamic simulations, aiming at a better understanding of the relationship between structure and catalytic performance.


    Kinetic study, in particular the transient kinetic study is a powerful tool for understanding of the surface reactions. Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance (TEOM) was applied to study the adsorption and diffusion of hydrocarbon in zeolites both at inert and reaction conditions. The TEOM reactor has also been applied to the kinetic study of coke/carbon deposition and deactivation. The steady-state isotopic transient kinetic analysis and in-situ UV-Vis spectroscopic study have been applied in kinetic study.


    Microkinetic modeling based on elementary reaction steps on the surface is a powerful tool, where the kinetic parameters are estimated based on the first principles or other theoretic methods like transition state theory. Microkinetic models have been developed for methane reforming on Ni catalyst, F-T reaction on Co catalyst, conversion of light paraffins on Pt catalyst, C4 dimerization on zeolite catalyst. The microkinetic model has been extended for rational catalyst design.


    Gas to liquids including synthesis gas production by steam and dry methane reforming, partial oxidation and chemical looping partial oxidation, as well as Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is the main reaction topic of the group. The research covers also the ethane and propane dehydrogenation and oxidative dehydrogenation, ethylene oxychlorination and water gas shift reaction



    The research addresses the fundamental understanding of the relationship between catalyst properties and selective activation of C-O, C-H, C-C and O-H bonds, which is essential to control the selectivity in biomass conversion. The research topics are conversion of biomass derived oxygenates to hydrogen and fuels by means of aldol condensation reactions.