Explore the Nano World 

 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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The research project embarks on our recent ES&T article (https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c08442) that reported the upcycling of nitrate in wastewater via a unique chemical-free electrochemical membrane technology organically coupling cathodic and anodic reactions and membrane stripping processes. For instance, cathodic reactions reduce nitrate into ammonia and consumes acidity or produces high alkalinity that promotes ammonia stripping across the catalyst-coated hydrophobic membrane. Anodic reactions provide acidity to the circulating electrolyte to trap ammonia and convert it into ammonium salts, which eliminates the need for external acid or base chemicals. The specific scientific merit from this project includes: (1) demonstrating a suite of novel catalyst-coated hydrophobic gas exchange membranes that enable efficient electron transfer for nitrate reduction, phase conversion and gas transfer; (2) synergizing cathodic and anodic reactions for nitrate reduction and proton exchange for producing and trapping ammonia; (3) unravelling mechanisms of electrochemical catalysis and mass transfer in this three-phase membrane interface via COMSOL Multiphysics simulations and density functional theory analysis; (4) deliberating the effects of wastewater matrix such as solution pH, NO3− and Cl− concentrations and other common co-existing substances on the stability of cathodic membrane operations; and (5) elucidating potential scaling mechanisms and prevention strategies on cathodic/anodic surfaces. 

Dr. Zhang’s research group recently received the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF)’s funding Grant to support the research on Electrified Membrane System for Chemical-Free Ammonia Production/Separation from Nitrate Containing Wastewater (NSF Award ID 2215387). This project will facilitate the collaborations of faculty from New Jersey Institute of Technology (Wen Zhang and Joshua Young) and Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Ronen Avner). This project will support Dr. Zhang’s doctoral students (Jianan Gao) and other team members to carry out this project from 2022 to 2025.