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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Congratulations Lu Wang, Meikun Xia, Hong Wang, Kefeng Huang, and Chenxi Qian on your Perspective “Greening Ammonia toward the Solar Ammonia Refinery”

The century-old Haber-Bosch process for the production of ammonia from N2 and H2 is an energy demanding and greenhouse gas intensive, high temperature and high pressure, fossil powered process. A contemporary challenge is to replace this unsustainable process by a sustainable one that produces ammonia from N2 and H2O, powered by solar electricity, solar heat or solar photons.

In this Perspective, we present an overview of current research activity and technology development in this area together with a high level energy analysis shown in the graphic of the different ways being explored to achieve the lofty goal of a ‘solar ammonia refinery’.

The full article can be read on the Joule website.

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U of T Solar Fuels Group Awarded Major Funding for Greenhouse Gas Project

Professor Geoff Ozin and the Solar Fuels Team at the University of Toronto have been awarded close to $1 million from the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF) to translate their greenhouse gas research to scale.

Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science made the announcement at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery conference on May 1. The project proposes a technology capable of recycling CO2, either from the atmosphere or from concentrated industrial sources, into value-added chemicals and fuels. Ontario’s Low Carbon Innovation Fund will help researchers, entrepreneurs and companies create and bring to market innovative low-carbon technologies. Moridi says that LCIF initiatives such as this, “will help us fight climate change while preparing industries to thrive in a competitive, low-carbon economy.” Ozin is excited to begin work on the Greenhouse Gases to Fuels project, commenting “working with the Low Carbon Innovation Fund, we intend to demonstrate that our G2F technology is an effective approach to making Ontario both environmentally sustainable and economically successful.”

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University of Toronto Solar Fuels Group among top Six finalists announced for Ontario’s Solutions 2030 Challenge

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) has announced the first cohort of finalists for Ontario’s Solutions 2030 Challenge – a three-phase competition over three years designed to accelerate the development of technologies with strong potential to help Ontario meet its 2030 emissions targets as part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan. The initiative is part of the province’s broader TargetGHG program, which is administered by OCE on behalf of the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

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Congratulations to Dr. Paul Duchesne for the Award of a Prestigious NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellowship

The NSERC PDF Program provides financial support to a core of the most promising Canadian researchers in natural sciences and engineering at a pivotal time in their careers. This support allows fellows to seek out the best research programs in their chosen fields, both within Canada and abroad. These fellowships are intended to secure a supply of highly qualified Canadians with leading-edge scientific and research skills for Canadian industry, government, and universities.

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The U of T Solar Fuels Team Showcase its Greenhouse Gas to Fuels Technology at OCE Discovery 2018

The U of T Solar Fuels Team Showcase its Greenhouse Gas to Fuels Technology at OCE Discovery 2018 at the Toronto Convention Center, which is the leading innovation-to-commercialization conference in Canada.
The Discovery exhibition brings together key players from industry, academia, government, the investment community as well as entrepreneurs and students to pursue collaboration opportunities, and it is with much excitement that U of T Solar Fuels Team looks forward to participating.

A video is posted at the U of T solar fuels team’s greenhouse gas to fuels G2F website. More information can be found on the Discovery 2018 website.

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Congratulations of Michael Ertl and Co-workers!

Quite surprisingly, the synthetic version of a naturally occurring iron mineral named after a Nobel laureate (Mössbauerite), which has been previously studied by geologists and soil scientists, was found to be a promising ‘iron only’ electrocatalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). In a four-way collaboration between the Universities of Bayreuth, Bochum, Munich, and Toronto, the electrocatalytic performance of synthetic mössbauerite is demonstrated to be competitive with the best-known ‘iron only’ electrocatalysts. Significantly, the structure of Mössbauerite offers plenty of opportunities for compositional modifications in the quest for a champion earth-abundant, low-cost, non-toxic electrocatalyst

The full article can be read on the Chemistry A European Journal website.

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Congratulations, Lu, Mireille, and Co-Authors, on your Solar Methanol Paper in Joule!

The current fashion for synthesizing methanol continues to be the high pressure and high temperature heterogeneous catalytic conversion of synthesis gas (CO-H2) using alumina supported nanostructured copper-zinc oxide as the catalyst and fossil fuel to power the process. It is an energy intensive process with a large CO2 greenhouse gas footprint and a deleterious effect on the climate. Thus, it would be highly desirable to produce methanol in a sustainable way and use CO2 as feedstock and solar energy to drive the synthesis. Solar technologies that facilitate the efficient conversion of CO2 and H2 into methanol offer a sustainable path to the production of renewable fuels. Furthermore, since about 30% of all known chemicals come from methanol, the production of solar methanol appears to be a “greener” strategy for the chemical and petrochemical industries. In this breakthrough report in Joule, we present a “solar methanol maker”, a rod-shaped In2O3-x(OH)y nanocrystal superstructure, that can efficiently hydrogenate CO2 to methanol at atmospheric pressure with a methanol selectivity for more than 50%. The remarkable production rate of 0.06 mmol gcat-1h-1 and excellent long-term stability of this catalyst in solar methanol synthesis makes it an interesting candidate for converting CO2 to methanol at an industrial scale in a CO2 refinery.

The full article can be read on the Joule website.

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Congratulations Mireille!

Mireille has received some great news, the award of a prestigious graduate scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada to support her doctoral research in the area of solar fuels. This scholarship recognises the outstanding performance of graduate students in their PhD studies.

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Congratulations Jia Jia!

Jia Jia has just learned she has won the much-coveted “Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad” from the China Scholarship Council.

This award, founded by the Chinese government in 2003, recognises the academic excellence of self-financed Chinese students studying overseas.
The award selection panel considers
only students with outstanding performance in their PhD studies.
No more than 500 young talents all around the world win the award each year.

Well done Jia Jia

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Nitrogen Reduction Reactions – Fact or Artifact

Artifacts that arise from adventitious carbon contamination of catalysts used in the electrochemical, photochemical and thermochemical reduction of CO2 to synthetic chemicals and fuels (, especially at low total conversions and low conversion rates, can only be authenticated through rigorous 13CO2 isotope-labeling proof-of-product experimentation to avoid the reporting of artifacts. Similarly, in the reduction of N2 to ammonia in aqueous solution using the aforementioned approaches, one must be equally diligent to apply strong checks to prevent the reporting of false-positives that can originate from impurities in the catalysts and N2 feed gas, and which require robust 15N2 isotope labeling to ensure unequivocal identification of the source of the ammonia.
Graphic image courtesy of Chenxi Qian.

The full article can be read on the Advanced Science News website.

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