Wen's Research Group​

Wen Zhang, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE

Principal Investigator

Phone: (973) 596-5520 
Fax: (973) 596-5790
Email: wen.zhang@njit.edu

Office Location: Colton Hall 211

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Ph.D. Candidate, Jianan Gao, delivered an invited talk at the C. Ellen Gonter Environmental Chemistry Award reception of the 2023 ACS Fall Meeting

Gao further enriched his knowledge from other insightful presentations that delved into superior catalysts design and ammonia separation techniques. The connections and insights garnered from this conference are not ephemeral; they pave the way for promising future collaborations.

On August 15th, 2023, at the ACS Fall Meeting, Ph.D. Candidate Jianan Gao captivated his audience with his discussion titled, "Decoupling Electron- and Phase-Transfer Processes to Enhance Electrochemical Nitrate-to-Ammonia Conversion by Blending Hydrophobic PTFE Nanoparticles within the Electrocatalyst Layer". 

At the heart of the nitrate-to-ammonia conversion process, the effective desorption of gaseous or interfacial bubble products – primarily NH3, but also minor quantities of nitrogen (N2) and hydrogen (H2) – from electrode surfaces is a pivotal rate-limiting step. This step ensures available sites remain for the NO3− reduction reaction. Gao articulated a straightforward strategy to address this: blending hydrophobic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) nanoparticles within the model CuO catalyst layer. This method effectively prevents the unwanted accumulation and blockage of electrode surfaces, and it majorly decouples the intertwined electron- and phase-transfer processes.

At the conference, Gao's outstanding contribution was recognized with the C. Ellen Gonter Environmental Chemistry Award. This accolade was presented to him by Professor Kevin O’Shea, Chair of the Student Awards Committee and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida International University.

Additionally, Gao attended CAPEES meetup orchestrated by Professor Xing Xie from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Gao was engaged in illuminating discussions with peers such as Sohum K. Patel from Yale University's Chemical & Environmental Engineering department (advised by Menachem Elimelech) and Ian H. Billinge from the Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering at Columbia University (advised by Ngai Yin Yip). Topics of conversation revolved around the operational mechanisms and potential advancements, including the potential incorporation of bipolar membranes (BPM) in the electrified membrane system.

His research, funded by the NSF/BSF Environmental Engineering (Award No: 2215387) and the New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute (Award#: G21AP10595-01), delves into a cutting-edge catalyst layer design strategy in electrified membrane technology for nitrate reduction and ammonia production.

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