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News Article | October 26, 2016
Site: www.nature.com

Dalian National Laboratory will focus on reducing carbon emissions from coal. After five years of preparation, China has officially opened a clean-energy research centre that will spearhead the country's efforts to develop new ways to reduce its carbon emissions. "Our goal is to lead energy research in the country, and to rank among the world's top energy labs," says Can Li, head of the Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy (DNL), which was inaugurated in early October. Li says the facility will combine all major areas of energy research, including cleaner fossil fuels, solar power, and fuel cell technologies. The lab is based at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP), a subsidiary of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The DNL's 600 scientists will be housed in a sprawling 40,000-square meter research complex on DICP's campus, where construction of the 204-million-renminbi (US$32 million) facility began in late 2006 after approval from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. "Now is a major turning point for the DNL," says Tao Zhang, director of DICP. "We are transitioning from the planning and team-building stage to actual research." Mindful that China relies on coal for more than two-thirds of its electricity, Li expects the DNL to focus much of its resources on clean fossil-fuel technologies, at least initially. This plays to the strengths of the DICP, which has developed methanol-to-olefins conversion processes that help to reduce waste in the industrial processing of coal. In cooperation with the Shenhua Group, China's largest coal supplier, the DICP last year opened a factory using its technology. The DICP also has an ongoing energy research partnership with international oil giant BP. The DNL is expected to establish similar links with businesses and research institutions in China and abroad. "Much of the research scope is strategically defined by China's unique energy resources, and will be critical for the development of the country in the next few decades," says Peidong Yang, department head at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. "Establishing the national lab is a great first step." The DNL's research into renewable energy sources will be more modest, however. "We are a latecomer in terms of solar-power research," says Li, who hopes that the lab will be able to leapfrog into more cutting-edge areas of renewable-energy research, such as artificial photosynthesis. The DNL sprang from the Chinese government's 2006 plan to set up ten national laboratories, each focusing on a broad topic, such as protein science or modern rail transportation. But the government has yet to set up a separate fund for those initiatives; the science ministry declined to comment on the situation. For now, the DICP is investing more than 289 million renminbi a year — over half of its annual research budget — in the DNL. More than half of that funding stream comes from DICP's business collaborations, with the remainder from government-funded research programs. "We are faced with some very fierce competition from labs all over the world, and money is one of the necessary ingredients to keep us going," says Li. "We hope for more funding from the government, but we are also prepared to generate revenues on our own."

Zhao Y.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Yao C.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Chen G.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Yuan Q.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy
Green Chemistry | Year: 2013

The development of highly efficient processes for the cycloaddition of CO2 with epoxides to produce five-membered cyclic carbonates is a very attractive topic. In this work, the cycloaddition of propylene oxide (PO) and CO2 to give propylene carbonate (PC) is studied in a microreactor using a HETBAB ionic liquid catalyst. The microreactor performance is evaluated by studying the effects of different operating conditions, including reaction temperature, operating pressure, residence time, molar ratio of CO 2/PO, and the catalyst concentration in PO. The process characteristics of the reaction concerning the gas-liquid mass transfer and the intrinsic kinetics perspectives are discussed. The results show that the residence time can be dramatically reduced from several hours in a conventional stirred reactor to about 10 s in a microreactor. The yield of PC at 3.5 MPa can reach 99.8% at a residence time of 14 s. The turnover frequency (TOF) value varies in the range of 3000 to 14000 h-1 compared to 60 h -1 in the conventional stirred reactor. The space time yield (STY) or the overall reaction rate ranges from 650 to 4500 gprod. (g cat. h)-1, which is much larger than the value [ca. 19 gprod. (gcat. h)-1] for the conventional stirred reactor. To some extent, the present study has also demonstrated the concept of 'Novel Process Windows'. This journal is © 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Kang G.-D.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Cao Y.-M.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy
Journal of Membrane Science | Year: 2014

Poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) membranes have been extensively applied to scientific research and industrial process due to its outstanding properties such as high thermal stability, good chemical resistance and membrane forming properties. This article provides an overview of recent progress on the application and modification of PVDF membranes. The applications include water treatment, membrane distillation, gas separation, pollutants removal, bioethanol recovery, separator for lithium ion battery, support for preparing composite membranes, etc. Subsequently, on the basis of two major problems of PVDF membranes in applications, i.e., membrane fouling and membrane wetting, the hydrophilic modification and hydrophobic modification methods are comprehensively reviewed. Finally, the key issues associated with the modification of PVDF membranes for actual applications are discussed. This paper may provide an insight for the development of PVDF membranes in future. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Nie X.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Nie X.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Qian H.,Carnegie Mellon University | Ge Q.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | And 2 more authors.
ACS Nano | Year: 2012

In this work, we explore the catalytic application of atomically monodisperse, thiolate-protected Au 25(SR) 18 (where R = CH 2CH 2Ph) nanoclusters supported on oxides for CO oxidation. The solution phase nanoclusters were directly deposited onto various oxide supports (including TiO 2, CeO 2, and Fe 2O 3), and the as-prepared catalysts were evaluated for the CO oxidation reaction in a fixed bed reactor. The supports exhibited a strong effect, and the Au 25(SR) 18/CeO 2 catalyst was found to be much more active than the others. Interestingly, O 2 pretreatment of the catalyst at 150 °C for 1.5 h significantly enhanced the catalytic activity. Since this pretreatment temperature is well below the thiolate desorption temperature (∼200 °C), the thiolate ligands should remain on the Au 25 cluster surface, indicating that the CO oxidation reaction is catalyzed by intact Au 25(SR) 18/CeO 2. We further found that increasing the O 2 pretreatment temperature to 250 °C (above the thiolate desorption temperature) did not lead to any further increase in activity at all reaction temperatures from room temperature to 100 °C. These results are in striking contrast with the common thought that surface thiolates must be removed-as is often done in the literature work-before the catalyst can exert high catalytic activity. The 150 °C O 2-pretreated Au 25(SR) 18/CeO 2 catalyst offers ∼94% CO conversion at 80 °C and ∼100% conversion at 100 °C. The effect of water vapor on the catalytic performance is also investigated. Our results imply that the perimeter sites of the interface of Au 25(SR) 18/CeO 2 should be the active centers. The intact structure of the Au 25(SR) 18 catalyst in the CO oxidation process allows one to gain mechanistic insight into the catalytic reaction. © 2012 American Chemical Society.

Tian Z.,CAS Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics | Tian Z.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Kass S.R.,University of Minnesota
Chemical Reviews | Year: 2013

Carbanions are anions that have a carbon center with an unshared pair of electrons and a formal negative charge. Understanding the reactivity of carbanions is challenging because it depends upon the associated metal and is sensitive to additives, the solvent, temperature, and concentration. Complications in solution due to solvation, counterion effects, and aggregation have hindered our understanding of these species. As a result, the intrinsic reactivity and properties of isolated and truly free carbanions in the gas phase are of interest. Versatile synthetic strategies have been developed for the preparation of a wide variety of gaseous carbanions. This has enabled the reactivities and thermodynamic properties of many carbanions to be experimentally determined. Moreover, because the electron can be viewed as the simplest protecting group, the reactivities and energetics of neutral species such as radicals, biradicals, carbenes, and other fleetingly stable species also can be explored.

Kang G.-D.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Cao Y.-M.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy
Water Research | Year: 2012

With the rapidly increasing demands on water resources, fresh water shortage has become an important issue affecting the economic and social development in many countries. As one of the main technologies for producing fresh water from saline water and other wastewater sources, reverse osmosis (RO) has been widely used so far. However, a major challenge facing widespread application of RO technology is membrane fouling, which results in reduced production capacity and increased operation costs. Therefore, many researches have been focused on enhancing the RO membrane resistance to fouling. This paper presents a review of developing antifouling RO membranes in recent years, including the selection of new starting monomers, improvement of interfacial polymerization process, surface modification of conventional RO membrane by physical and chemical methods as well as the hybrid organic/inorganic RO membrane. The review of research progress in this article may provide an insight for the development of antifouling RO membranes and extend the applications of RO technology in water treatment in the future. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Xie Y.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Xie Y.,China Three Gorges University | Wang T.-T.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Liu X.-H.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | And 2 more authors.
Nature Communications | Year: 2013

Conjugated microporous polymers are a new class of porous materials with an extended π-conjugation in an amorphous organic framework. Owing to the wide-ranging flexibility in the choice and design of components and the available control of pore parameters, these polymers can be tailored for use in various applications, such as gas storage, electronics and catalysis. Here we report a class of cobalt/aluminium-coordinated conjugated microporous polymers that exhibit outstanding CO2 capture and conversion performance at atmospheric pressure and room temperature. These polymers can store CO 2 with adsorption capacities comparable to metal-organic frameworks. The cobalt-coordinated conjugated microporous polymers can also simultaneously function as heterogeneous catalysts for the reaction of CO2 and propylene oxide at atmospheric pressure and room temperature, wherein the polymers demonstrate better efficiency than a homogeneous salen-cobalt catalyst. By combining the functions of gas storage and catalysts, this strategy provides a direction for cost-effective CO2 reduction processes. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Chen B.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Chen B.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Wang L.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Gao S.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy
ACS Catalysis | Year: 2015

Imines as valuable intermediates are widely applied in pharmaceutical syntheses and organic transformation. However, the traditional imine synthesis involves unstable aldehydes, dehydrating agents, and Lewis acid catalysts. The topic of this review is focused on three new approaches, namely, the cross-coupling of alcohols with amines, the self-coupling of primarily amines, and the oxidative dehydrogenation of secondary amines, utilizing much more readily available starting materials and green oxidant (O2/air) to furnish the imine products. The related catalysts are classified into metal, metal-free, photo-, and bioinspired catalysts. Particular emphasis is placed on the high-active, low-cost, and versatile catalysts; key factors that affect the catalytic activity and reaction mechanisms are also highlighted. © 2015 American Chemical Society.

Men Y.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Yang M.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy
Catalysis Communications | Year: 2012

A series of NiZnAl catalysts have been developed for the hydrogen production by methanol steam reforming within microchannel reactor. These catalysts were characterized by N 2 adsorption-desorption, X-ray diffraction, H 2-TPR and pulse H 2-chemisorption. Our results show that the coexistence of Ni and Zn in bimetallic catalysts results in superior catalytic performance for hydrogen production compared with monometallic catalysts, despite the fact the former possesses the lower surface area. The difference between the catalytic performances could mainly be attributed to the Ni promotion effect associated with SMSI-like geometric effects and interpreted by a hypothesized encapsulation model corroborated by the characterizations. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Yang J.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Wang D.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Han H.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy | Li C.,Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy
Accounts of Chemical Research | Year: 2013

Since the 1970s, splitting water using solar energy has been a focus of great attention as a possible means for converting solar energy to chemical energy in the form of clean and renewable hydrogen fuel. Approaches to solar water splitting include photocatalytic water splitting with homogeneous or heterogeneous photocatalysts, photoelectrochemical or photoelectrocatalytic (PEC) water splitting with a PEC cell, and electrolysis of water with photovoltaic cells coupled to electrocatalysts. Though many materials are capable of photocatalytically producing hydrogen and/or oxygen, the overall energy conversion efficiency is still low and far from practical application. This is mainly due to the fact that the three crucial steps for the water splitting reaction: solar light harvesting, charge separation and transportation, and the catalytic reduction and oxidation reactions, are not efficient enough or simultaneously. Water splitting is a thermodynamically uphill reaction, requiring transfer of multiple electrons, making it one of the most challenging reactions in chemistry.This Account describes the important roles of cocatalysts in photocatalytic and PEC water splitting reactions. For semiconductor-based photocatalytic and PEC systems, we show that loading proper cocatalysts, especially dual cocatalysts for reduction and oxidation, on semiconductors (as light harvesters) can significantly enhance the activities of photocatalytic and PEC water splitting reactions. Loading oxidation and/or reduction cocatalysts on semiconductors can facilitate oxidation and reduction reactions by providing the active sites/reaction sites while suppressing the charge recombination and reverse reactions. In a PEC water splitting system, the water oxidation and reduction reactions occur at opposite electrodes, so cocatalysts loaded on the electrode materials mainly act as active sites/reaction sites spatially separated as natural photosynthesis does. In both cases, the nature of the loaded cocatalysts and their interaction with the semiconductor through the interface/junction are important. The cocatalyst can provide trapping sites for the photogenerated charges and promote the charge separation, thus enhancing the quantum efficiency; the cocatalysts could improve the photostability of the catalysts by timely consuming of the photogenerated charges, particularly the holes; most importantly, the cocatalysts catalyze the reactions by lowering the activation energy. Our research shows that loading suitable dual cocatalysts on semiconductors can significantly increase the photocatalytic activities of hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions, and even make the overall water splitting reaction possible. All of these findings suggest that dual cocatalysts are necessary for developing highly efficient photocatalysts for water splitting reactions. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

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