Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering

ISSN 2095-0179

ISSN 2095-0187(Online)

CN 11-5981/TQ

2015 Impact Factor: 1.043

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The advances of Sino-German new materials
Rongbiao Wang
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 327-328.

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Copper nanoparticles/polyaniline-derived mesoporous carbon electrocatalysts for hydrazine oxidation
Tao Zhang, Tewodros Asefa
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 329-338.

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Copper nanoparticles-decorated polyaniline-derived mesoporous carbon that can serve as noble metal-free electrocatalyst for the hydrazine oxidation reaction (HzOR) is synthesized via a facile synthetic route. The material exhibits excellent electrocatalytic activity toward HzOR with low overpotential and high current density. The material also remains stable during the electrocatalytic reaction for long time. Its good electrocatalytic performance makes this material a promising alternative to conventional noble metal-based catalysts (e.g., Pt) that are commonly used in HzOR-based fuel cells.

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Nickel nanopore arrays as promising current collectors for constructing solid-state supercapacitors with ultrahigh rate performance
Huaping Zhao, Long Liu, Yaoguo Fang, Ranjith Vellacheri, Yong Lei
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 339-345.

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In this work, nickel nanopore arrays with a highly-oriented nanoporous structure inherited from porous alumina membranes were used as nanostructured current collectors for constructing ultrahigh rate solid-state supercapacitors. A thin layer of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) as electroactive materials was conformally coated onto nickel nanopores to form heterostructured electrodes. The as-prepared electrodes have a large specific surface area to ensure a high capacity, and the highly-oriented nanoporous structure of nickel nanopores reduces the ion transport resistance, allowing the ions in the solid-state electrolytes to quickly access the PEDOT surface during the fast charge-discharge process. As a result, the assembled solid-state supercapacitor in a symmetric configuration exhibits an ideal capacitive behavior and a superior rate capability even at an ultrahigh scan rate of 50 V·s1.

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S-enriched porous polymer derived N-doped porous carbons for electrochemical energy storage and conversion
Chao Zhang, Chenbao Lu, Shuai Bi, Yang Hou, Fan Zhang, Ming Cai, Yafei He, Silvia Paasch, Xinliang Feng, Eike Brunner, Xiaodong Zhuang
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 346-357.

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Porous polymers have been recently recognized as one of the most important precursors for fabrication of heteroatom-doped porous carbons due to the intrinsic porous structure, easy available heteroatom-containing monomers and versatile polymerization methods. However, the heteroatom elements in as-produced porous carbons are quite relied on monomers. So far, the manipulating of heteroatom in porous polymer derived porous carbons are still very rare and challenge. In this work, a sulfur-enriched porous polymer, which was prepared from a diacetylene-linked porous polymer, was used as precursor to prepare S-doped and/or N-doped porous carbons under nitrogen and/or ammonia atmospheres. Remarkably, S content can sharply decrease from 36.3% to 0.05% after ammonia treatment. The N content and specific surface area of as-fabricated porous carbons can reach up to 1.32% and 1508 m2·g−1, respectively. As the electrode materials for electrical double-layer capacitors, as-fabricated porous carbons exhibit high specific capacitance of up to 431.6 F·g−1 at 5 mV·s−1 and excellent cycling stability of 99.74% capacitance retention after 3000 cycles at 100 mV·s−1. Furthermore, as the electrochemical catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction, as-fabricated porous carbons presented ultralow half-wave-potential of 0.78 V versus RHE. This work not only offers a new strategy for manipulating S and N doping features for the porous carbons derived from S-containing porous polymers, but also paves the way for the structure-performance interrelationship study of heteroatoms co-doped porous carbon for energy applications.

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Synthesis of aluminum nanoparticles as additive to enhance ignition and combustion of high energy density fuels
Xiu-Tian-Feng E, Lei Zhang, Fang Wang, Xiangwen Zhang, Ji-Jun Zou
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 358-366.

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High energy density fuels are critical for hypersonic aerospace propulsion but suffer from difficulties of ignition delay and incomplete combustion. This research reports aluminum nanoparticles (Al NPs) assisted ignition and combustion of high energy density JP-10 fuel. Al NPs with a size of 16 nm were fabricated through a mild and simple method by decomposing AlH3·Et2O with the addition of a surfactant ligand. The uniform size distribution, nanoscaled size and surface ligand make Al NPs stably suspend in JP-10, with 80% NPs being dispersed in the liquid fuel after six months. A shock tube test shows that the presence of 1 wt-% Al NPs can significantly shorten ignition delay time at temperature of 1500 to 1750 K, promote the combustion, and enhance energy release of JP-10. This work demonstrates the potential of Al NPs as ignition and combustion additive for high energy density fuel in hypersonic applications.

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Tubes with coated and sintered porous surface for highly efficient heat exchangers
Hong Xu, Yulin Dai, Honghai Cao, Jinglei Liu, Li Zhang, Mingjie Xu, Jun Cao, Peng Xu, Jianshu Liu
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 367-375.

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Surface modification is a direct and effective way to enhance the efficiency of heat exchangers. Surface modification by forming a microporous coated layer can greatly enhance the boiling heat transfer and thus achieve a high performance. In this paper, we systematically investigate the boiling behavior on a plain surface with/without sintered microporous coatings of copper powder. The results demonstrated that the sintered surface has a better performance in nucleate boiling due to the increased nucleation sites. The superheat degree is lower and the bubble departure diameter is larger for the sintered surface than for the plain surface, so the heat can be carried away more efficiently on the sintered surface. In addition, the heat transfer capacity on the sintered surface depends on both the powder size and the coating thickness for a high flux tube. The optimum heat transfer capacity can be obtained when the thickness of the microporous coating layer is 3–5 times of the sintered powder diameter. As a result, the heat transfer coefficient tube can be up to 3 times higher for the tube with a sintered surface than that with a plain surface, showing a pronounced enhancement in heat transfer and a high potential in chemical engineering industry application.

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Synthesis of hydrophobic carbon nanotubes/reduced graphene oxide composite films by flash light irradiation
Kai Wang, Jinbo Pang, Liwei Li, Shengzhe Zhou, Yuhao Li, Tiezhu Zhang
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 376-382.

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Carbon nanotubes/graphene composites have superior mechanical, electrical and electrochemistry properties with carbon nanotubes as a hydrophobicity boosting agent. Their extraordinary hydrophobic performance is highly suitable for electrode applications in lithium ion batteries and supercapacitors which often employ organic electrolytes. Also the hydrophobic features enable the oil enrichment for the crude oil separation from seawater. The ever reported synthesis routes towards such a composite either involve complicated multi-step reactions, e.g., chemical vapor depositions, or lead to insufficient extrusion of carbon nanotubes in the chemical reductions of graphene oxide, e.g., fully embedding between the compact graphene oxide sheets. As a consequence, the formation of standalone carbon nanotubes over graphene sheets remains of high interests. Herein we use the facile flash light irradiation method to induce the reduction of graphene oxides in the presence of carbon nanotubes. Photographs, micrographs, X-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy and thermogravimetric analysis all indicate that graphene oxides has been reduced. And the contact angle tests confirm the excellent hydrophobic performances of the synthesized carbon nanotube/reduced graphene oxide composite films. This one-step treatment represents a straightforward and high efficiency way for the reduction of carbon nanotubes/graphene oxides composites.

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Preparation of hydrogels with uniform and gradient chemical structures using dialdehyde cellulose and diamine by aerating ammonia gas
Peiwen Liu, Carsten Mai, Kai Zhang
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 383-389.

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Hydrogels with precisely designed structures represent promising materials with a broad application spectrum, such as for sensor, tissue engineering and biomimetic technology. However, with highly reactive compounds, the preparation of hydrogels still needs an efficient approach for desired distribution of each component within hydrogels. In addition, a method for in situ preparation of gradient hydrogels is still lacking. Herein, we report the formation of hydrogels with either uniform or gradient internal structures via a novel, simple but very efficient method by aerating ammonia gas (NH3 gas) into the solution of dialdehyde cellulose (DAC) and a diamine. As-prepared hydrogels exhibited uniform microscopic and chemical structure or gradient distribution of functional groups. Due to lots of aldehyde groups on DAC chains, functional hydrogels can be prepared by using diverse diamines. For instance, hydrogels prepared by using 1,6-hexanediamine as a cross-linker were responsive to pH values. Moreover, this controllable process of aerating NH3 gas allows the in situ formation of gradient hydrogels; for instance, by using cyanamide as a reaction counterpart, gradient hydrogels with gradient distributions of cyanide groups were prepared.

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Superhydrophobic, mechanically flexible and recyclable reduced graphene oxide wrapped sponge for highly efficient oil/water separation
Lijuan Qiu, Ruiyang Zhang, Ying Zhang, Chengjin Li, Qian Zhang, Ying Zhou
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 390-399.

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Water pollution has become an urgent issue for our modern society, and it is highly desirable to rapidly deal with the water pollution without secondary pollution. In this paper, we have prepared a reduced graphene oxide (RGO) wrapped sponge with superhydrophobicity and mechanically flexibility via a facile low-temperature thermal treatment method under a reducing atmosphere. The skeleton of this sponge is completely covered with RGO layers which are closely linked to the skeleton. This sponge has an abundant pore structure, high selectivity, good recyclability, low cost, and outstanding adsorption capacity for floating oil or heavy oil underwater. In addition, this sponge can maintain excellent adsorption performance for various oils and organic solvents over 50 cycles by squeezing, and exhibits extremely high separation efficiencies, up to 6 × 106 and 3.6 × 106 L·m−3·h−1 in non-turbulent and turbulent water/oil systems, respectively. This superhydrophobic adsorbent with attractive properties may find various applications, especially in large-scale removal of organic contaminants and oil spill cleanup.

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Synthesis of iron(II) complexes with asymmetric N2O2 coordinating Schiff base-like ligands and their spin crossover properties
Wolfgang Bauer, Tanja Ossiander, Birgit Weber
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 400-408.

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The synthesis of new Schiff base-like ligands with asymmetric substituents pattern and their iron complexes with pyridine as axial ligand is described. Two of the ligands and one of the iron(II) complexes were characterized by single crystal X-ray structure analysis. One of the the iron(II) complexes shows spin crossover behavior while the others remain in the high spin state. The influence of the reduced symmetry of the ligand on the properties of the complexes is discussed.

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Synthesis of cobalt vanadium nanomaterials for efficient electrocatalysis of oxygen evolution
Meifeng Hao, Mingshu Xiao, Lihong Qian, Yuqing Miao
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 409-416.

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A low-cost and high-activity catalyst for oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is the key to the water splitting technology for hydrogen generation. Here we report the use of three solvents, DMF, ethanol and glycol, in the solvothermal synthesis of three nano-catalysts, Co3(VO4)2-I, Co3(VO4)2-II, and Co3(VO4)2-III, respectively. Transmission electron microscope shows Co3(VO4)2-I, II, and III exist as ultrafine nanosheets, ultrathin nanofilms, and ultrafine nanosheet-comprised microspheres, respectively. These Co3(VO4)2 catalysts exhibit OER electrocatalysis, among which the Co3(VO4)2-II shows the lowest onset overpotential of 310 mV and only requires a small overpotential of 330 mV to drive current density of 10 mA/cm2. Due to their high surface free energy, the ultrathin nanofilms of Co3(VO4)2-II exhibits a good immobilization effect with the high electrocatalytic activity for OER.

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3D Network nanostructured NiCoP nanosheets supported on N-doped carbon coated Ni foam as a highly active bifunctional electrocatalyst for hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions
Miaomiao Tong, Lei Wang, Peng Yu, Xu Liu, Honggang Fu
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 417-424.

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A highly active bi-functional electrocatalyst towards both hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions is critical for the water splitting. Herein, a self-supported electrode composed of 3D network nanostructured NiCoP nanosheets grown on N-doped carbon coated Ni foam (NiCoP/NF@NC) has been synthesized by a hydrothermal route and a subsequent phosphorization process. As a bifunctional electrocatalyst, the NiCoP/NF@NC electrode needs overpotentials of 31.8 mV for hydrogen evolution reaction and 308.2 mV for oxygen evolution reaction to achieve the current density of 10 mA·cm2 in 1 mol·L1 KOH electrolyte. This is much better than the corresponding monometal catalysts of CoP/NF@NC and NiP/NF@NC owing to the synergistic effect. NiCoP/NF@NC also exhibits low Tafel slope, and excellent long-term stability, which are comparable to the commercial noble catalysts of Pt/C and RuO2.

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A 3D porous WP2 nanosheets@carbon cloth flexible electrode for efficient electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution
Mingyu Pi, Xiaodeng Wang, Dingke Zhang, Shuxia Wang, Shijian Chen
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 425-432.

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Self-standing porous WP2 nanosheet arrays on carbon fiber cloth (WP2 NSs/CC) were synthesized and used as a 3D flexible hydrogen evolution electrode. Because of its 3D porous nanoarray structure, the WP2 NSs/CC exhibits a remarkable catalytic activity and a high stability. By using the experimental measurements and first-principle calculations, the underlying reasons for the excellent catalytic activity were further explored. Our work makes the present WP2 NSs as a promising electrocatalyst for hydrogen evolution and provides a way to design and fabricate efficient hydrogen evolution electrodes through 3D porous nano-arrays architecture.

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Crystal-to-crystal transformation from the triclinic to the cubic crystal system by partial desolvation
Qianqian Guo, Irmgard Kalf, Ulli Englert
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 433-439.

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Diffusion reaction of the labile building block Mg(acacCN)2 (acacCN= 3-cyanoacetylacetonate) with silver salts leads to a series of solvated Mg/Ag bimetallic coordination polymers with composition [Mg(acacCN)3Ag]·solvent. Despite their common stoichiometry, the topology of these polymers depends on the solvent of crystallization. The two-dimensional coordination compound [Mg(acacCN)3Ag]·4CHCl3 in space group P1 is obtained as platelet-shaped crystals from a mixture of methanol and chloroform. When kept in the reaction mixture, these thin plates within one week convert to isometric tetrahedral crystals of the 3D network [Mg(acacCN)3Ag]·2CHCl3 in the cubic space group P213. The transformation reaction proceeds via dissolution and recrystallization. The co-crystallized solvent molecules play an important role for stabilizing the target structure: They subtend Cl···Cl contacts and interact via non-classical C–H···O hydrogen bonds with the coordination framework. In the new cubic coordination network, both Mg(II) and Ag(I) adopt octahedral coordination, with unprecedented face-sharing by bridging O atoms of three acetylacetonato moieties. Prolonged standing of [Mg(acacCN)3Ag]·2CHCl3 in the reaction medium leads to further degradation, under formation of [Ag(acacCN)].

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Fabrication of three-dimensional porous La-doped SrTiO3 microspheres with enhanced visible light catalytic activity for Cr(VI) reduction
Dong Yang, Xiaoyan Zou, Yuanyuan Sun, Zhenwei Tong, Zhongyi Jiang
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 440-449.

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In recent years, much effort has been focused on the development of the photocatalysts with high performance under visible light irradiation. In this paper, three-dimensional porous La-doped SrTiO3 (LST) microspheres were prepared by a modified sol–gel method, in which the agarose gel/SrCO3 microsphere and La2O3 were employed as the template and the La resource, respectively. The as-prepared LST microspheres exhibit a porous structure with a diameter of about 10 µm and a surface pore size of about 100 nm. The La element was doped into the crystal lattice of SrTiO3 by the substitution of La3+ for Sr2+. Therefore, the absorption edge of LST samples shifts toward the visible light region, and their photocatalytic activity for the Cr(VI) reduction is enhanced under visible light. Among all LST samples, LST-0.5 (the La3+ doping content is 0.5 wt-%) exhibited the highest visible-light photocatalytic activity, which can reduce 84% Cr(VI) within 100 min. This LST materials may become a promising photocatalyst for the facile treatment of wastewater containing poisonous heavy metal ions.

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Laser ablation of block copolymers with hydrogen-bonded azobenzene derivatives
Jintang Huang, Youju Huang, Si Wu
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 450-456.

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Supramolecular assemblies (PS-b-P4VP(AzoR)) are fabricated by hydrogen-bonding azobenzene derivatives (AzoR) to poly(4-vinyl pyridine) blocks of polystyrene-block-poly(4-vinyl pyridine) (PS-b-P4VP). PS-b-P4VP(AzoR) forms phase separated nanostructures with a period of ~75–105 nm. A second length scale structure with a period of 2 µm is fabricated on phase separated PS-b-P4VP(AzoR) by laser interference ablation. Both the concentration and the substituent of AzoR in PS-b-P4VP(AzoR) affect the laser ablation process. The laser ablation threshold of PS-b-P4VP(AzoR) decreases as the concentration of AzoR increases. In PS-b-P4VP(AzoR) with different substituents (R= CN, H, and CH3), ablation thresholds follow the trend: PS-b-P4VP(AzoCN)<PS-b-P4VP(AzoCH3)<PS-b-P4VP(AzoH). This result indicates that the electron donor group (CH3) and the electron acceptor group (CN) can lower the ablation threshold of PS-b-P4VP(AzoR).

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Synthesis and characterization of biodegradable thermoplastic elastomers derived from N′,N-bis (2-carboxyethyl)-pyromellitimide, poly(butylene succinate) and polyethylene glycol
Jiaojiao Shang, Guo Yao, Ronghui Guo, Wei Zheng, Long Gu, Jianwu Lan
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 457-466.

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Biodegradable poly(ether-imide-ester) elastomers were synthesized from succinic acid, 1,4-butanediol, polyethylene glycol 1000 and N′,N-bis(2-carboxyethyl)-pyromellitimide which was derived from pyromellitic dianhydride and glycine. The chemical structures, crystallinities, thermal stabilities, mechanical properties, hydrophilicities and biodegradabilities of these elastomers were investigated. The hard segments of the linear aliphatic poly(ether-ester) exhibited monoclinic chain packing. Increasing the amount of aromatic bisimide moieties in the poly(ether-ester) reduced the crystallinity of the material and improved the thermal stability and tensile strength of the elastomers. In addition, introducing a suitable amount of aromatic bisimide moieties into the poly(ether-ester) backbones endowed the elastomers with improved biodegradability but too many aromatic bisimide groups reduced the biodegradability of the elastomers.

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Nickel-carbonate nanowire array: An efficient and durable electrocatalyst for water oxidation under nearly neutral conditions
Yuyao Ji, Min Ma, Xuqiang Ji, Xiaoli Xiong, Xuping Sun
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 467-472.

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It is highly attractive but still remains a great challenge to develop an efficient electrocatalyst for oxygen evolution reaction under nearly neutral conditions. In this work, we report the transformation of Ni3S2 nanowire array on nickel foam into the amorphous nickel carbonate nanowire array on nickel foam (NiCO3/NF). The resulting NiCO3/NF shows high electrocatalytic activity towards water oxidation and affords current density of 50 mA·cm−2 at overpotential of 395 mV in 1.0 mol·L−1 KHCO3. Moreover, this NiCO3/NF is also durable with a long-term electrochemical durability of 60 h. This catalyst electrode achieves a high turnover frequency of 0.21 mol O2·s−1 at the overpotential of 500 mV.

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Polypyrrole@NiCo hybrid nanotube arrays as high performance electrocatalyst for hydrogen evolution reaction in alkaline solution
Shenghua Ye, Gaoren Li
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 473-480.

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The polypyrrole(PPy)@NiCo hybrid nanotube arrays have been successfully fabricated as a high performance electrocatalyst for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in alkaline solution. The strong electronic interactions between PPy and NiCo alloy are confirmed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and Raman spectra. Because these interations can remarkably reduce the apparent activation energy (Ea) for HER and enhance the turnover frequency of catalysts, the electrocatalytic performance of PPy@NiCo hybrid nanotube arrays are significantly improved. The electrochemical tests show that the PPy@NiCo hybrid catalysts exhibit a low overpotential of ~186 mV at 10.0 mA·cm2 and a small tafel slope of 88.6 mV·deg1 for HER in the alkaline solution. The PPy@NiCo hybrid nanotubes also exhibit high catalytic activity and high stability for HER.

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A mini review: Functional nanostructuring with perfectly-ordered anodic aluminum oxide template for energy conversion and storage
Huaping Zhao, Long Liu, Yong Lei
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 481-493.

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Nanostructures have drawn great attentions for functional device applications. Among the various techniques developed for fabricating arrayed nanostructures of functional materials, nanostructuring technique with porous anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) membrane as templates becomes more attractive owing to the superior geometrical characteristics and low-cost preparation process. In this mini review, we summarize our recent progress about functional nanostructuring based on perfectly-ordered AAO membrane to prepare perfectly-ordered nanostructure arrays of functional materials toward constructing high-performance energy conversion and storage devices. By employing the perfectly-ordered AAO membrane as templates, arrayed nanostructures in the form of nanodot, nanorod, nanotube and nanopore have been synthesized over a large area. These as-obtained nanostructure arrays have large specific surface area, high regularity, large-scale implementation, and tunable nanoscale features. All these advanced features enable them to be of great advantage for the performance improvement of energy conversion and storage devices, including photoelectrochemical water splitting cells, supercapacitors, and batteries, etc.

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Self-supported transition metal phosphide based electrodes as high-efficient water splitting cathodes
Yan Zhang, Jian Xiao, Qiying Lv, Shuai Wang
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 494-508.

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Electrolytic water splitting has been considered as a promising technology to produce highly pure H2 by using electrical power produced from wind, solar energy or other fitful renewable energy resources. Combining novel self-supporting structure and high-performance transition metal phosphides (TMP) shows substantial promise for practical application in water splitting. In this review, we try to provide a comprehensive analysis of the design and fabrication of various self-supported TMP electrodes for hydrogen evolution reaction, which are divided into three categories: catalysts growing on carbon-based substrates, catalysts growing on metal-based substrates and freestanding catalyst films. The material structures together with catalytic performances of self-supported electrodes are presented and discussed. We also show the specific strategies to further improve the catalytic performance by elemental doping or incorporation of nanocarbons. The simple and one-step methods to fabricate self-supported TMP electrodes are also highlighted. Finally, the challenges and perspectives for self-supported TMP electrodes in water splitting application are briefly discussed.

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Engineering operando methodology: Understanding catalysis in time and space
Raquel Portela, Susana Perez-Ferreras, Ana Serrano-Lotina, Miguel A. Bañares
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 509-536.

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The term operando was coined at the beginning of this century to gather the growing efforts devoted to establish structure-activity relationships by simultaneously characterizing a catalyst performance and the relevant surface chemistry during genuine catalytic operation. This approach is now widespread and consolidated; it has become an increasingly complex but efficient junction where spectroscopy, materials science, catalysis and engineering meet. While for some characterization techniques kinetically relevant reactor cells with good resolution are recently developing, the knowledge gained with magnetic resonance and X-ray and vibrational spectroscopy studies is already huge and the scope of operando methodology with these techniques is recently expanding from studies with small amounts of powdered solids to more industrially relevant catalytic systems. Engineering catalysis implies larger physical domains, and thus all sort of gradients. Space- and time- resolved multi-technique characterization of both the solid and fluid phases involved in heterogeneous catalytic reactions (including temperature data) is key to map processes from different perspectives, which allows taking into account existing heterogeneities at different scales and facing up- and down-scaling for applications ranging from microstructured reactors to industrial-like macroreactors (operating with shaped catalytic bodies and/or in integral regime). This work reviews how operando methodology is evolving toward engineered reaction systems.

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Layered double hydroxide-based core-shell nanoarrays for efficient electrochemical water splitting
Wenfu Xie, Zhenhua Li, Mingfei Shao, Min Wei
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 537-554.

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Electrochemical water splitting is an efficient and clean strategy to produce sustainable energy productions (especially hydrogen) from earth-abundant water. Recently, layered double hydroxide (LDH)-based materials have gained increasing attentions as promising electrocatalysts for water splitting. Designing LDHs into hierarchical architectures (e.g., core-shell nanoarrays) is one of the most promising strategies to improve their electrocatalytic performances, owing to the abundant exposure of active sites. This review mainly focuses on recent progress on the synthesis of hierarchical LDH-based core-shell nanoarrays as high performance electrocatalysts for electrochemical water splitting. By classifying different nanostructured materials combined with LDHs, a number of LDH-based core-shell nanoarrays have been developed and their synthesis strategies, structural characters and electrochemical performances are rationally described. Moreover, further developments and challenges in developing promising electrocatalysts based on hierarchical nanostructured LDHs are covered from the viewpoint of fundamental research and practical applications.

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Polyolefin-nanocomposites with special properties by in-situ polymerization
Walter Kaminsky
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 555-563.

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Exceptionally strong polyolefin nanocomposites are synthesized by in-situ polymerization using soluble metallocene/methylaluminoxane (MAO) as catalysts in a two-step process. First, the soluble metallocene/MAO or other single site catalysts are absorbed on the surface of the nanofillers. Then by addition of ethene or propene, a polyolefin film is formed, covering the nanoparticles, layered silicates, or fibers. The resulting polyethylene and polypropylene nanocomposites are characterized by better physical and chemical properties such as stiffness, gas barrier properties, degradation temperatures, and crystallization rates. They show better mechanical properties than materials produced by mechanical blending. The thickness of the polyolefin can be controlled by the pressure of ethene or propene and by the polymerization time. Carbon fibers and carbon nanotubes are covered with isotactic or syndiotactic polypropylene. Because of the hydrophobic character of the carbon surface, the polymer is drawn on the fiber. This leads to a reinforced combined polymer with special properties. The crystallization temperature is 10 °C higher and therefore the crystallization rate up to 20 times faster than that of pure syndiotactic polypropylene. The form stability increases by 100% if 3 wt-% of carbon nanotubes are incorporated.

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Corrosion behavior of metallic alloys in molten chloride salts for thermal energy storage in concentrated solar power plants: A review
Wenjin Ding, Alexander Bonk, Thomas Bauer
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 564-576.

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Recently, more and more attention is paid on applications of molten chlorides in concentrated solar power (CSP) plants as high-temperature thermal energy storage (TES) and heat transfer fluid (HTF) materials due to their high thermal stability limits and low prices, compared to the commercial TES/HTF materials in CSP-nitrate salt mixtures. A higher TES/HTF operating temperature leads to higher efficiency of thermal to electrical energy conversion of the power block in CSP, however causes additional challenges, particularly increased corrosiveness of metallic alloys used as containers and structural materials. Thus, it is essential to study corrosion behaviors and mechanisms of metallic alloys in molten chlorides at operating temperatures (500–800 °C) for realizing the commercial application of molten chlorides in CSP. The results of studies on hot corrosion of metallic alloys in molten chlorides are reviewed to understand their corrosion behaviors and mechanisms under various conditions (e.g., temperature, atmosphere). Emphasis has also been given on salt purification to reduce corrosive impurities in molten chlorides and development of electrochemical techniques to in-situ monitor corrosive impurities in molten chlorides, in order to efficiently control corrosion rates of metallic alloys in molten chlorides to meet the requirements of industrial applications.

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Recent advances toward high voltage, EC-free electrolytes for graphite-based Li-ion battery
Tong Zhang, Elie Paillard
Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.. 2018, 12 (3): 577-591.

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Lithium-ion batteries are a key technology in today’s world and improving their performances requires, in many cases, the use of cathodes operating above the anodic stability of state-of-the-art electrolytes based on ethylene carbonate (EC) mixtures. EC, however, is a crucial component of electrolytes, due to its excellent ability to allow graphite anode operation–also required for high energy density batteries–by stabilizing the electrode/electrolyte interface. In the last years, many alternative electrolytes, aiming at allowing high voltage battery operation, have been proposed. However, often, graphite electrode operation is not well demonstrated in these electrolytes. Thus, we review here the high voltage, EC-free alternative electrolytes, focusing on those allowing the steady operation of graphite anodes. This review covers electrolyte compositions, with the widespread use of additives, the change in main lithium salt, the effect of anion (or Li salt) concentration, but also reports on graphite protection strategies, by coatings or artificial solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) or by use of water-soluble binder for electrode processing as these can also enable the use of graphite in electrolytes with suboptimal intrinsic SEI formation ability.

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