Graduate Scholarships and Post-doctoral Fellowships Available

The materials chemistry research group encourages top-rank post doctoral fellows, both national and international, to apply for the elite Banting and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships to support their work in our group.

The applications can be found on the Banting and Vanier websites.

We also encourage Marie-Curie and Alexander von Humbolt fellows as well as other top rank international graduate and post-graduate scholars holding research fellowships to apply for positions in our group.

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UofT Solar Fuels Cluster

The U of T Solar Fuels Cluster is an interdisciplinary research team devoted to developing scalable, cost effective materials solutions towards using CO2 as a chemical feedstock for valuable products. Leveraging the expertise of some of Canada’s leading chemists, engineers, and material scientists, we hope to initiate a paradigm-shifting zero-emission CO2 economy.

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Challenges of Electrifying Heterogeneous Catalysis

How can we replace the fossil-fuel-derived heat that conventionally drives chemical processes with an emissions-free alternative? The current standard in industrial-scale heterogeneous catalytic processes, such as the production of ammonia and hydrogen, is to use heat supplied by the combustion of natural gas. Heat can alternatively be supplied from non-fossil sources, such as renewable electricity; however, assessing the net impact on carbon emissions of electricity-based processes remains non-trivial.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Electrochemical Carbon Dioxide Reduction in Supercritical Carbon Dioxide is Cool

At standard temperature and pressure, CO2 exists as a gas. On cooling to -78.5 °C, it becomes a solid called dry ice, which is a common refrigerant. At a critical temperature of 31.1 °C and pressure 72.9 atmospheres, however, CO2 becomes a supercritical fluid with properties intermediate to a gas and liquid. In this form, CO2 fills a containment vessel and exhibits a low viscosity reminiscent of a gas but retains the high density of a liquid. It turns out that supercritical CO2 also has rather appealing properties as both solvent and reagent in the electrochemical reduction of CO2 to a variety of products.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Congratulations to Dr. Xiaoliang Yan and co-authors on their paper, “Nickel@Siloxene catalytic nanosheets for high-performance CO2 methanation”

wo-dimensional materials hold great potential as catalysts for the heterogeneous conversion of CO2 to synthetic fuels and chemicals. In this paper, Yan et al. demonstrate the performance of nickel@siloxene to be highly sensitive to the nickel component being located either on the interior or exterior of adjacent siloxene nanosheets. Control over the location of nickel is achieved by employing the terminal groups of siloxene and varying the solvent used during its nucleation and growth, which ultimately determines the distinct reaction intermediates and pathways for the catalytic CO2 methanation. A CO2 methanation rate of 100 mmol gNi−1 h−1 is achieved with over 90% selectivity when nickel resides specifically between the sheets of siloxene.
See full article at Nature Communications.

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Congratulations to Dr. Tingjiang Yan and co-authors on their paper, “Polymorph selection towards photocatalytic gaseous CO2 hydrogenation”

Titanium dioxide is the only known material that can enable gas-phase CO2 photocatalysis in its anatase and rutile polymorphic forms. In their paper, however, Dr. Yan and co-authors demonstrate that the lesser known rhombohedral polymorph of indium sesquioxide, like its well-documented cubic polymorph, can act as a CO2 hydrogenation photocatalyst with the ability to produce CH3OH and CO.
See full article at Nature Communications.

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Electricity-free Renewable Hydrogen

A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has reported that applying carbon capture and utilization (CCU) to manufacture the top 20 commodity chemicals could mitigate up to of 3.5 gigatonnes of carbon emmisions annually, equivalent of nearly 10% of the emissions released in 2018. The study found CCU’s potential to be contingent on whether the vast amount of electricity it would require could actually be provided given the limited renewable electricity infrastructure that currently exists. How do we decide which energy-consuming processes should be made priority?
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Global Carbon Dioxide Cooling

It may come as a surprise, but carbon dioxide, the infamous greenhouse gas driving climate change, is also a leading contender in the replacement of hydrofluorocarbons in the next-generation of “green” refrigeration systems. It offers many advantages over second and third generation refrigerants, including higher volumetric cooling capacity, lower operating temperatures, non-flammability, reduced operating costs, and lower global warming potential.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Congratulations to Dr. Lu Wang and co-authors on their paper in Angewandte Chemie!

Surface Frustrated Lewis Pairs (SFLPs) have been implicated in the gas‐phase heterogeneous (photo)catalytic hydrogenation of CO₂ via the cubic form of hydroxylated indium oxide. In their paper, Dr. Wang and co-authors report the room temperature dissociation of molecular hydrogen via SFLPs on the rhombodral form of the catalyst, which is shown to favour the heterolysis over the homolysis reaction pathway.
See full article at Angewandte Chemie.

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Is Air Conditioning Cool?

When one thinks of the major sources of anthropogenic emissions entering the earth’s atmophsere, chances are that air conditioning isn’t the first to come to mind. However, the carbon footprint of AC systems is far from negligeable: they are expected to contribute an additional 167 gigatonnes of CO2 by 2050. But what if AC systems could be re-designed to provide an opportunity to capture CO2 from the air? Global adoption of on-site conversion of CO2 from AC systems into chemicals and fuels could have a key role in addressing global climate change.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Crowd oil not crude oil

Congratulations to authors Prof. Roland Dittmeyer, Michael Klumpp, Paul Kant, and Prof. Geoffrey Ozin on the release of their Nature Communications article, “Crowd oil not crude oil”. The delocalized nature of climate change poses a major challenge to mitigation efforts. The authors propose retrofitting air conditioning units to convert water and carbon dioxide into fuel. The users would collect the synthetically-made oil for their personal use, or to redistribute within their community, as to encourage decentralized CO2 conversion and energy democratization. Read full article at Nature Communications.

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Advanced Science News: “Spamming Science”

The internet has had profound effects on virtually all aspects of society. It has revolutionized virtually every aspect of our lives, from the ways in which we engage and communicate, to our shopping and entertainment habits, and to our media and politics. But what of the effect of the internet age on academia? As one of the earliest adopters of email communication, academics have witnessed the many ways in which the internet has shifted the nature of scientific collaborations, publishing processes, and research patterns. Have we, however, reached a point where electronic communication has become more problematic than beneficial to academic research?
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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