Electrosynthesis of small molecules
Current chemicals are produced from centralized chemical plants by energy-intensive thermochemical processes or protocols with hazardous additives. After production, they need to be separated, purified, transported, and finally distributed to the end-users. Those traditional ways of manufacturing chemicals have not only high cost but also cause excessive pollutions. Moreover, the supply chain is highly vulnerable to raw materials shortage or deliberate attacks on the plants. Thus, realizing "decentralized" and green synthesis of basic chemicals plays a critical role in achieving a sustainable future.
Our group aims to develop electrochemical processes that use clean electricity to produce various chemicals under mild conditions. In the electrocatalysis process, electrons can be directly manipulated to achieve different synthesis pathways, which avoids vast amounts of potentially toxic oxidizing or reducing agents. The electrocatalysis processes can produce target chemicals on site quickly and conveniently, which reduces the need for sizeable centralized equipment. Our research covers both designing high-efficient electrocatalysts and developing advanced reactors for the on-site electrosynthesis of pure products such as H2O2, IPA, Phenol etc. We are also interested in operando spectroscopies and theoretical calculations that reveal the atomic catalytic mechanisms in the electrochemical process.