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Cheng Tang, Speaker at Chemical Engineering Conferences
The University of Adelaide, Australia
Title : Electrocatalytic refinery to decarbonize and decentralize hydrogen peroxide and ammonia production


Access to green, flexible and reliable energy and chemicals is the key to global sustainable development and increasing prosperity, especially in the post-COVID-19 and carbon-neutral economy. Aiming at creating changes in energy technologies and chemicals manufacturing, we proposed the electrocatalytic refinery (e-refinery) to defossilize, decarbonize and decentralize present chemical industry. We for the first time established the concept, principles, and methodologies of e-refinery. Based on it, we aim to develop new technologies that can creatively produce some key chemicals (e.g., H2, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, formate, urea) directly from abundant sources (e.g., water, air, CO2) and powered by renewable electricity.

Specifically, we developed an efficient e-refinery strategy for producing H2O2 directly from water and oxygen via two-electron oxygen reduction, which is of high flexibility to be operated in small scales and on demand. Our work innovatively engineers the structure of electrocatalysts at the molecular level, and has achieved present best activity and selectivity (> 95%) for H2O2 production in both alkaline and acidic conditions. The obtained concentration of H2O2 (> 1%) is high enough for practical applications such as disinfection and electro-Fenton water treatment. Besides, we also innovated the ammonia production technologies by electrocatalysis directly from air (N2 and O2) and water. We proposed for the first time bismuth catalysts for direct electrocatalytic nitrogen fixation into ammonia at ambient conditions. To address the significant drawbacks of tough N2 activation and poor NH3 selectivity, we developed a new two-step process through integration of plasma oxidation with electrocatalytic reduction, leading to ~2500 times higher yield and ~100% Faradaic efficiency. All the research in materials design and mechanism elucidation are achieved by combining atomic-level material engineering, electrochemical evaluation, theoretical computations, and advanced in situ characterizations.

Keywords: electrocatalysis, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, single-atom catalysts.


Cheng Tang received his B.Eng. and Ph.D. from the Department of Chemical Engineering, Tsinghua University in 2013 and 2018, respectively, under the supervision of Prof. Qiang Zhang and Prof. Fei Wei. Currently, he is a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Adelaide working with Prof. Shi-Zhang Qiao. His research focuses on functional nanomaterials and carbon-neutral energy and chemistry, including 3D graphene, single-atom materials, next-generation batteries, electrocatalytic refinery for renewable fuels and chemicals, etc. He has published 1 authored book, 1 book chapter and > 70 research papers in refereed journals (over 7600 citations, h-index: 44, Google Scholar). He was awarded the 2020 World’s TOP 2% Scientists (released by Stanford University), 2019 Chorafas Foundation Award in Chemistry, the 2019 Springer Thesis Prize, the 2018 CPCIF-Clariant CleanTech Award, the Top-Grade Scholarship at Tsinghua University (10/35000). Dr. Tang is named as a 2020 Global Highly Cited Researcher in Cross-Field (Clarivate Analytics).