Nel scientist wins first prize for research in proton exchange membrane technology.
We all get emails telling us about “lucky wins” and “great opportunities.” Most of us send them directly to our junk folder. Kaiqi Xu was about to do the same thing a few weeks ago when a message popped up in his inbox that he had been awarded the Yara Birkeland Prize for his outstanding research.
Kaiqi Xu, electrochemical engineer at Nel Hydrogen, said:
Then I realized that the email came from the University of Oslo.
“I contacted me [former] A supervisor who reminded me that he had agreed to make my PhD eligible for the award. I completely forgot! ’ says Shu.
“We designed a device inspired by Nell’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology.”
Electrolysis of water using the power of the sun
Xu’s PhD research continues today as a scientist working at Nel, exploring the possibility of using the sun’s energy to electrolyze water. Xu used tantalum nitride, a compound with the rare ability to generate an electric current when exposed to sunlight. Electrocatalysts, which facilitate chemical reactions, helped split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
“We designed a device inspired by Nell’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology. First we tried hydroxide electrocatalysts and they worked. Then we tried biocatalysts (enzymes). he says.
The enzyme in question is formate dehydrogenase, which is common in nature. When used in conjunction with tantalum nitride, Xu was able to combine hydrogen with his CO2 in the atmosphere to produce formic acid.
Award-winning process to help fight climate change
Both mineral and biocatalytic approaches are still highly theoretical evidence at this point, but the potential for producing green hydrogen from processes that mimic photosynthesis is clearly exciting. An added advantage in combating variability, formic acid is widely used throughout the chemical industry.
Xu is from a small town about three hours south of Shanghai, China by train. A businessman and the son of a stay-at-home mom, he says his motivations are both scientific and moral. Scientific as he is fascinated by everything to do with green hydrogen and renewable energy. He is moral because he has seen his homeland suffer as a result of climate change.
“This summer in China has been extremely hot everywhere, so we want to do what we can to stop climate change, even if it’s just a small contribution,” says Xu.
Xu, who studied chemical engineering in China and chemistry at the University of Oslo, has officially received the award and will give a lecture at the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters on September 20, 2022. ceremonial.
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Nell Scientist Wins First Prize, September 13, 2022