Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
University of Delaware
Abstract: Tailoring Efficient Renewable Catalytic Processes for a Sustainable Future
Heterogeneous catalysis (including electrocatalysis) is one of the pillars of the energy and chemicals industries, and a central science in driving the accelerating transition to a carbon neutral future. Enhancing energy efficiency and selectivity control by tailoring the composition and structure of solid catalysts have been long-sought goals and remain key challenges in the catalytic science. Molecular level insights on surface mediated thermo/electro-catalytic processes are required to exercise rational catalyst design, meanwhile elaborate synthetic strategies are needed to realize the designed catalyst architecture. In this lecture, two case studies will be discussed in the context of cycle of rational catalyst development, i.e., understanding reaction mechanisms and developing synthetic methods. Ex-situ and operando characterizations lead to the identification of the active phase and elucidation of deactivation mechanism of metal nitrides catalyzed electrochemical nitrogen reduction, which provide insights in future catalyst design. Zeolite encapsulated metal nanoparticles, prepared by a novel cationic polymer-assisted synthetic strategy, demonstrate promise in selectively mediate tandem catalytic biomass conversions. The unique architecture of encapsulated bifunctional catalysts could introduce a new paradigm in the intensification of catalytic cascade processes. The interplay between mechanistic understanding and well-controlled synthesis is essential to accelerating the development of efficient catalytic processes.
Bingjun Xu is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at University of Delaware. Dr. Xu received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, advised by Profs. Friend and Madix, from Harvard University in 2011. His thesis established a mechanistic framework for oxidative coupling reactions on the Au surface through surface science studies. Dr. Xu worked with Prof. Davis at Caltech on the development of a low temperature, manganese oxide based thermochemical cycle for water splitting. Upon finishing his postdoc, he joined the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at University of Delaware in 2013. The current research interest of the Xu lab spans heterogeneous catalysis, electrocatalysis and in-situ spectroscopy. Dr. Xu is an awardee of NSF Early Career Award (2017), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award (2016), ACS Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award (2015), and is recently selected as one of the I&EC Class 2018 Influential Researchers.