The research activities in heterogeneous catalysis are mainly focused on two aspects. One is the synthesis and assembly of novel catalytic materials with controlled structure and morphology, including heterogenization of homogeneous catalysts and supported metal nanoparticles. Another aspect is the application of these materials in catalytic reactions that are potentially significant for sustainable chemical production and environmental protection, such as selective C-C bond formation, selective redox reactions, and photocatalytic pollutant degradation. The aim is to integrate the two aspects for establishing the structure-performance relationship which is the core of heterogeneous catalysis. The team has published a list of papers on international journals including Advanced Materials.
Homogeneous Catalysis and Green Synthesis
This team mainly focuses on homogenous oxidation, carbonylation and green synthesis. In catalytic oxidations, the team currently focuses on the fundamental studies to elucidate the reactivity relationships of versatile active intermediates occurring chemical and enzymatic oxidations, and investigate how the non-redox metal ions modulate the reactivity of the redox metal ions in oxidations, which will benefit the understanding of chemical and enzymatic mechanisms and the design of selective redox catalyst. Up to now, this team has published a series of papers on Accounts of Chemical Research, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, etc. In catalytic carbonylation, the team mainly focuses on exploring new catalysts for carbonylations of methanol, glycerol, and phenols, etc., for industrial applications. Up to now, more than ten patents have been issued in this field with a list of publications, and the catalytic technology for methanol carbonylation has been applied in pilot plant. In green synthesis, this team mainly focuses on innovative media and green reactions. To improve the greenness of a target reaction system, some inexpensive and bulky bio-based chemicals were often used as either solvents or catalysts. In order to maximize the catalytic activity of an ionic liquid, solvent effect was also considered. The developed strategy indeed improved significantly the performance of some functionalized ionic liquids, with which some eco-efficient systems have been developed. In the past few years, this team has published a series of papers on Chemical Society Reviews and Green Chemistry, and three of them have been identified as highly cited papers.
The team mainly focuses on wastewater, exhaust gas and air pollutant treatments. In wastewater treatment, the team focuses on exploring advanced oxidation technologies based on bicarbonate activated hydrogen peroxide to degrade versatile organic pollutants; meanwhile, developing new catalytic technologies for improving the quality of treated water with low COD are also in process. In exhaust gas treatment, the team focuses on developing high efficient technologies for NOx removal for diesel emissions. We have successfully designed vanadium based catalysts which could meet China IV standard. Now, we devote more efforts to vanadium-free catalysts such as metal oxides catalysts, zeolite catalysts including Cu/SAPO-34, Cu/SSZ-13 and Cu/ZSM-5. In air pollutant treatment, we have developed various TiO2-based photocatalysts with different morphology for gas benzene degradation. Currently, this team has published several papers on international journals including Environmental Science & Technology, and two patents have been issued.
Catalysis for Sustainable Energy
This team focuses on the development of innovative catalytic methods for rational utilizations of biomass, which can be transferred to finally some techniques contribute to the replacement of fossil resources. The research is mainly dealing with valorization of some bulky biomass like lignin, polysaccharide, cellulose and polyols. The target compounds are either a platform molecule for the next generation of liquid fuel or some useful final chemicals. For example, furfural, a largely available chemical generated from agricultural industry, was also used as starting material to prepare some valuable chemicals, such as maleic acid, maleic anhydride and other synthetic intermediates. The team has published several papers on well-established journals such as ChemSusChem, Green Chemistry and Chemistry-Europen Journal, and one patent has been in process.