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Chem Synth 2023;3:3. 10.20517/cs.2022.30 © The Author(s) 2023.
Open Access Research Article

Photothermal catalytic H2 production over hierarchical porous CaTiO3 with plasmonic gold nanoparticles

1Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary T2N 1N4, Canada.

2School of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, Hubei, China.

#Both Authors contributed equally.

*Correspondence to: Prof. Jinguang Hu, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary T2N 1N4, Canada. E-mail: jinguang.hu@ucalgary.ca

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    Academic Editors: Bao-Lian Su, Da-Gang Yu | Copy Editor: Ke-Cui Yang | Production Editor: Ke-Cui Yang

    © The Author(s) 2023. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, for any purpose, even commercially, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

    Abstract

    The synergistic promotion by photocatalysis and thermocatalysis is a promising approach for sustainable hydrogen (H2) production. Herein, we rationally design a perovskite-based catalyst with three-dimensionally ordered macroporous structure (3DOM CaTiO3-Au) for photothermal catalytic H2 production from different substrates. The hierarchical 3DOM structure facilitates light harvesting and mass diffusion of the substrates, while the gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) promote charge separation. The photogenerated and hot electrons are oriented accumulated on the surface of Au NPs. The non-metallic gold species [Au(I)] show more activity for H2 evolution. As a result, 3DOM CaTiO3-Au exhibits excellent activity for H2 production from glycerol and other substrates with hydroxyl groups. The present work demonstrates a feasible approach to improve sustainable H2 production by rationally designing and fabricating efficient photothermal catalysts.

    INTRODUCTION

    Hydrogen (H2), a clean and sustainable energy vector, has been widely recognized as a promising alternative to traditional fossil fuels[1]. Currently, about 96% of H2 is produced from the steam reforming process, which requires a huge amount of energy input and results in CO2 emission[2]. Comparably, solar-driven water splitting is a more energy-saving and sustainable approach for H2 generation[3-8]. However, the present water splitting activity has been greatly limited by the energetically and kinetically demanding process of O2 evolution reaction (OER)[9,10]. In the present work, numerous investigations have been conducted to replace the OER with organic photo-oxidation, which could not only reduce the energy demand for H2 generation but also provide an alternative to simultaneously produce value-added chemicals[11-17].

    To realize the above scenario, the rational design of dual-functional photocatalysts is highly desired. The excellent candidate should have multiple abilities in light harvesting, enhanced charge separation and favorable surface reaction kinetics[18,19]. In terms of light harvesting, the hierarchically porous structure stands out due to the multiple scattering effect, prolonging the interaction between incident photons with photocatalytic materials[20-22]. Three-dimensionally ordered macroporous (3DOM) structure has been extensively applied in photocatalytic applications because of its outstanding competence in improving light absorption and facilitating mass diffusion[23-26]. Our previous investigation has revealed the significant promotion in photocatalytic H2 production by CaTiO3 perovskite with 3DOM structure and carbon quantum dots as cocatalysts, which exhibited comparable activity as 3DOM CaTiO3-Au[27]. Considering the excellent photo- and thermal effects of perovskite and gold nanoparticles, it could be foreseen that H2 production activity would be significantly boosted with the synergistic promotion by photocatalysis and thermocatalysis[28,29].

    Limited by the high Gibbs free energy of most chemical reactions, the overall activity of most photocatalysis is still in the primary stage[30]. Herein, photothermal catalysis with the assistance of heating to improve the solar-to-hydrogen efficiency has begun to emerge in most recent years[31-33]. Metal nanomaterials with localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) effect have been widely utilized in photothermal applications, such as gold[34]. The widely recognized mechanism in this case is the photo-assisted thermocatalysis, in which the local temperature on these metal nanomaterials could be as high as > 70 °C under irradiation, thereby enhancing reaction kinetics[35]. However, the synergistic promotion of H2 generation could only achieve 2-5 folders as the LSPR of these metal nanomaterials generates a limited number of active electrons, which would be partially transferred to the conduction band of the contacted semiconductors[36]. Due to the sluggish H2 evolution reaction on the surface of semiconductor compared with metal materials, photo-assisted thermocatalysis still has significant scope for improvement. From this point of view, accumulating more electrons on the surface of plasmonic gold nanoparticles with extra heating from activated semiconductor materials is a feasible approach to further improve the activity of H2 production. Besides, non-metallic gold species (Auδ+) have been reported to have improved activity for photocatalytic reactions[37]. The internal mechanism has not been systematically investigated.

    In the present work, we demonstrate the synergistic catalysis of photocatalysis and thermocatalysis for H2 production by conducting the experiment under light irradiation and at a controlled temperature. 3DOM CaTiO3 is firstly synthesized by the colloid-template method and gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) are then loaded on the surface to obtain the photothermal catalyst. The as-prepared 3DOM CaTiO3-Au exhibits hierarchically porous structure in long range and shows significant improvement in visible light absorption due to the LSPR effect. As a result, the 3DOM CaTiO3-Au shows excellent H2 production (145.2 μmol) from photothermal glycerol reforming, which is about 57 times and 13 times higher than that from thermocatalysis and photocatalysis, respectively. The oriented accumulation of photothermal electrons on the surface of Au NPs with oxidized species greatly reduces the energy barrier for hydrogen evolution. The present work demonstrates an example of boosting hydrogen production by coupling photocatalysis with thermocatalysis with the rational design of a catalyst.

    RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

    The fabrication process of 3DOM CaTiO3-Au is illustrated in Figure 1A. Briefly, the obtained polystyrene spheres by the surfactant-free emulsion polymerization method are assembled into a colloid template. The precursor containing Ca(NO3)2 and titanium (IV) isopropoxide then fills the voids of the template, accompanied by the simultaneous hydrolysis reaction. After calcination in air with gradient programs, the 3DOM CaTiO3 is obtained with CaCO3 impurity on the surface. Finally, gold nanoparticles are loaded on the acid-washed 3DOM CaTiO3 by sodium borohydride reduction method. As the quality of colloid template plays a vital role in the formation of 3DOM structure, the assembled polystyrene spheres are first characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The highly ordered assembly of polystyrene spheres is revealed in Figure 1B. Figure 1C displays the low-resolution SEM image of the fabricated 3DOM CaTiO3 which is an assembly of relatively uniform three-dimensionally ordered macroporous structure. The framework of 3DOM CaTiO3 is constructed by porous nanosheet, which has been well explained in our previous investigation [Figure 1D]. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images at low resolution also reveal the hierarchically porous structure with well-distributed gold nanoparticles [Figure 1E and F]. The statistical result of the gold nanoparticles shows a broad size distribution and they concentrate in 8 nm [Supplementary Figure 1]. The high crystallinity could be revealed by the distinguished lattices with a spacing of 0.27 nm, corresponding to the (112) crystal facet of orthorhombic CaTiO3 [Figure 1G]. The element mappings reveal the uniform distribution of each element in the structure [Supplementary Figure 2].

    Figure 1. (A) Schematic illustration of the fabrication process of 3DOM CaTiO3-Au, SEM images of (B) assembled polystyrene spheres; (C) 3DOM CaTiO3 with low resolution; (D) 3DOM CaTiO3 with high resolution; (E) and (F) Low-resolution TEM images of 3DOM CaTiO3-Au; (G) high-resolution TEM image of 3DOM CaTiO3-Au.

    Figure 2A shows the XRD patterns of the 3DOM CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au. CaTiO3 phase was confirmed by the comparison between the XRD patterns and the Joint Committee on Powder Diffraction Standards (JCPDS) card no. 01-078-1013. The as-fabricated CaTiO3 has pure phase and good crystallinity. All diffraction peaks can be assigned to the orthorhombic structure. The inset in Figure 2A is the partial enlarged detail and the peak around 38.3° corresponds to the (111) lattice plane of Au, which reveals the presence of Au in CaTiO3. The XRD patterns of the CaTiO3 unwashed by diluted nitric acid are shown in Supplementary Figure 3. In addition to CaTiO3, the impurity CaCO3 was also observed. The Ca2+ outside the crystal structure of CaTiO3 interacted with CO2 to form CaCO3 during the calcination process. The initial molar ratio of Ca and Ti was 1:1, and the formation of CaCO3 indicated the presence of cation defects in the crystal structure[38].

    Figure 2. (A) XRD patterns; (B) UV-vis absorption spectra, high-resolution XPS spectra of (C) Ca 2p; and (D) Au 4f of 3DOM CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au.

    The optical properties of 3DOM CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au have been measured by UV-vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy and the corresponding spectra are shown in Figure 2B. The optical band gap values obtained through the linear fitting of tails from the UV-vis spectra are shown in the inset of Figure 2B. All the samples are of the same size and thickness. The strong absorption at a wavelength range below 400 nm matches the intrinsic inter-band transition absorption of orthorhombic CaTiO3[39]. As shown in the inset of Figure 2B, the band gap of as-fabricated 3DOM CaTiO3 is approximately 3.25 eV, corresponding to an optical absorption edge of 382 nm. After the introduction of AuNPs, the light absorption is greatly improved. The broad peak at 540 nm of 3DOM CaTiO3-Au composite corresponds to surface plasmon resonance (SPR) absorption of Au nanoparticles.

    The chemical states on the surface of catalysts have been investigated by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), where characteristic peaks of Ca, Ti, O, Au and C are observed in the general survey scan [Supplementary Figure 4A]. All the XPS data has been calibrated by C 1s at 284.8 eV [Supplementary Figure 4B]. The pristine 3DOM CaTiO3 and the modified composite of 3DOM CaTiO3-Au show the unchanged binding energies of Ti 2p and O 1s [Supplementary Figure 4C and D]. However, a significant shift to lower binding energy in Ca 2p spectra is identified with the loading of Au NPs onto the surface of CaTiO3, indicating the spontaneous electron transfer due to the formation of Schottky junctions [Figure 2C][40]. More importantly, the oxidized species of gold is also identified apart from the metallic state, which is consistent with our previous investigation [Figure 2D][37]. The relative percentage of Au (I) is calculated to be around 3.2%. The detected Ti-OH in the O 1s spectra indicated the presence of oxygen vacancy in both 3DOM CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au, which could be further revealed by the electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) results [Supplementary Figure 5]. Noticeably, the intensity of oxygen vacancy increases with the introduction of gold nanoparticles, which may attribute to the high reduction ability of sodium borohydride.

    The activity of as-prepared catalysts was evaluated by thermos-photocatalytic glycerol reforming for H2 production. To reveal the synergistic promotion of thermocatalysis and photocatalysis, H2 production over different catalysts was first investigated via thermocatalysis at 100 °C and photocatalysis, respectively. CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3 produce a similar amount of H2 after 11 h reaction (0.47 μmol and 0.52 μmol respectively), indicating the negligible contribution of 3DOM structure in thermocatalytic H2 production of pristine CaTiO3 [Figure 3A]. With the loading of gold nanoparticles, the amount of H2 significantly increases to 2.55 μmol after 11 h reaction, which is probably attributed to the mass diffusion property of hierarchical 3DOM structure. Another feature of 3DOM structure is light harvesting, which facilitates activating CaTiO3 to produce more electrons and holes[41]. The promotion of H2 production of 3DOM structure could be revealed by the performance of CaTiO3 (0.26 μmol) and 3DOM CaTiO3 (0.70 μmol) under the Xenon lamp irradiation [Figure 3B]. After loading gold nanoparticles, about 30 folders and 17 folders in H2 production after 11 h reaction is achieved for CaTiO3-Au (7.89 μmol) and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au (11.67 μmol), respectively. The synergistic enhancement is further realized by coupling thermocatalysis at 100 °C and photocatalysis for all the four catalysts. The amount of H2 generation at 11-h reaction for CaTiO3, 3DOM CaTiO3, CaTiO3-Au and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au is boosted to 18.91 μmol, 40.60 μmol, 90.41 μmol and 145.2 μmol, respectively [Figure 3C]. The comparison in H2 production for each catalyst under different reaction conditions further demonstrates the significant promotion by photothermal approach [Supplementary Figures 6-9 and Supplementary Table 1]. Compared to bare photocatalysis and thermocatalysis, the H2 generation over 3DOM CaTiO3-Au by photothermal catalysis is enhanced by about 12 and 58 folders, respectively. The effect of gold loading on the thermo-photocatalytic H2 production was further investigated by changing the volume of used HAuCl4. The variation of gold loading is revealed to have a negligible effect on H2 production for CaTiO3-Au without 3DOM structure. While 3DOM CaTiO3-Au exhibits significant relation with the gold loading and 205.9 μmol of H2 is produced at the 11-h reaction when the actual loading of gold was 1.90 wt% [Figure 3D], which is more efficient compared to the CaTiO3-based catalyst in literature [Supplementary Table 2]. The reaction temperature is then changed to investigate its relationship with H2 production [Figure 3E]. 3DOM CaTiO3-Au exhibits similar activity when the temperature is above 60 °C, while the activity greatly reduces when the temperature is 40 °C. This indicates that 60 °C may be the threshold to fully activate 3DOM CaTiO3-Au to produce active electrons for H2 production. It should be mentioned that CO2 was not observed during the reaction, indicating the absence of overoxidation. Some liquid products at extremely low concentrations were detected by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) [Supplementary Figure 10]. However, the glycerol conversion was negligible (< 2%). The contribution of glycerol to H2 production could be revealed by the control experiment in which pure water without glycerol is used as the reactant [Supplementary Figure 11]. It clearly shows that significant enhancement in H2 production is achieved with the addition of glycerol, revealing the role of sacrificial agent of glycerol. The stability of 3DOM CaTiO3-Au is tested at 60 °C during the long-time cycling reaction. In the first five cycles, 3DOM CaTiO3-Au shows gradually increased activity and good stability could be revealed by the repeatability in H2 production [Figure 3F].

    Figure 3. H2 production over different catalysts via (A) thermocatalysis (100 °C); (B) photocatalysis; (C) thermo-photocatalysis (100 °C); (D) thermo-photocatalytic H2 production over 3DOM CaTiO3-Au prepared by different volumes of HAuCl4 (actual loading of Au is labeled); (E) thermo-photocatalytic H2 production over 3DOM CaTiO3-Au prepared by 1.5 mL of HAuCl4 under different reaction temperatures; and (F) long-time cycling test.

    To explain the internal reason for the gradual enhancement in H2 production during the first five cycles, the used catalyst 3DOM CaTiO3-Au was collected and characterized for its morphology and chemical state. The 3DOM structure in the long range is kept well after catalytic reaction and a little collapse could also be observed in the high-resolution SEM image [Figure 4A and B]. A significant change in the chemical state of gold is observed [Figure 4C]. Other elements have almost the same chemical state after catalytic reaction [Supplementary Figure 12]. The relative percentage of Au (I) increases from 3.2% to 8.7% after catalytic reaction. Electrostatic potential (ESP) difference is calculated by the addition of two oxygen atoms above the gold [Figure 4D]. The region near the binding site of proton overlaps the region with increased electrostatic potential, suggesting that the electron binding affected by the change in ESP would be relevant to chemical reactions involving hydrogen and electron. Contribution from the elevated ESP to the binding of an electron is 10 to 19 kcal/mol, which suggests a stronger electron binding capability of charged gold ions compared to the pristine gold atoms. Considering that the elevated ESP locates near the hydrogen binding site, we expect that the charged gold ions would exhibit a higher reactivity. The H2 production from different substrates over 3DOM CaTiO3-Au is also investigated. As the number of hydroxyl groups in the molecular structure from methanol to glycerol increases, the activity of H2 production also increases [Figure 4E]. However, when the glucose and cellobiose with five and eight hydroxyl groups are used as the substrate, the H2 production performance is greatly reduced, mainly due to the poor accessibility of these substrates with large dimensional structures to the catalyst[42,43]. Further inhibition of H2 evolution is observed when cellulose with a more complex structure is used as the substrate. Therefore, the H2 production performance is not only related to the number of hydroxyl groups but also the complexity of substrate structure. A brief mechanism is proposed herein [Figure 4F]. Under light irradiation, the electrons of CaTiO3 are activated to conduction band, while the holes stay on the valence band. Due to the high work function of Au, the photogenerated electrons are then transferred to the surface of Au. With the assistance of extra heating, more electrons are accumulated from CaTiO3 and the Au NPs also generate active hot electrons. All the electrons on the surface of Au NPs trigger the proton reduction reaction to produce H2, while the substrate oxidation reaction is proceeded by the holes on the valence band.

    Figure 4. (A and B) SEM images of 3DOM CaTiO3-Au after photocatalytic reaction; (C) XPS Au 4f spectra of 3DOM CaTiO3-Au before and after photocatalytic reaction; (D) electrostatic potential difference brought by oxidization of gold atoms (the left and the middle are cross-section view of yz and xz plane, respectively. The right is a 3-D view of the electrostatic potential difference. The positive values indicate an elevated electrostatic potential by the addition of oxygen atoms); (E) H2 production from different substrates; and (F) the proposed mechanism.

    To reveal the improvement in charge separation after the introduction of Au NPs, steady photoluminescence (PL) spectra of 3DOM CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au are collected with the excitation wavelength of 400 nm. 3DOM CaTiO3-Au exhibits much reduced PL intensity, indicating the significant inhibition of photogenerated electrons and holes [Figure 5A]. To check the effect of temperature on the charge generation, transient photocurrent is measured. Both 3DOM CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au show excellent responses to light irradiation [Figure 5B]. When the temperature of the electrolyte increases from 20 °C to 60 °C, more than 10 folders in photocurrent are achieved for 3DOM CaTiO3-Au, revealing the generation of more electrons with the assistance of extra heating. To visually understand the charge separation, the electromagnetic field is simulated on a single Au nanoparticle [Figure 5C]. It is clear that the charge density on the surface of Au is much higher than that of CaTiO3 and the highest electromagnetic field intensity is located at the interface of Au and CaTiO3, indicating the formation of electron transfer channel at the interface and the immigration of active electrons from CaTiO3 to Au. The photothermal effect of the catalyst is recorded by measuring the temperature of the 3DOM CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au with different light irradiation times [Figure 5D]. Combined with the corresponding IR thermal images [Supplementary Figure 13], it clearly shows the significant contribution to the photothermal effect by the gold nanoparticles. The electronic density difference brought by the addition of gold to perovskite is evaluated in real space and plotted [Figure 5E-G]. The isosurface in yellow encloses a space with enriched electronic density. We expect that this region favors proton binding. We place a hydrogen atom near the binding site and calculate that the total energy difference between the compound and individual components (the perovskite-gold model and a single hydrogen atom) is about -76.70 kcal/mol near gold and -93.48 kcal/mol near gold ions, which further indicates that oxidized gold species facilitate the H2 evolution.

    Figure 5. (A) PL; (B) photocurrent of 3DOM CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au under different temperatures; (C) simulated electromagnetic field intensity distribution; (D) temperature of the catalyst with different light irradiation times for 3DOM CaTiO3 and 3DOM CaTiO3-Au. Isosurfaces of electronic density difference at the perovskite-gold interface from the cross-section view of (E) yz and (F) xz plane; (G) 3-D view of positive-value and negative-value isosurface in yellow and blue, respectively.

    CONCLUSIONS

    In summary, 3DOM CaTiO3 is successfully fabricated by the colloid template method and Au NPs with partially oxidized species [Au(I)] are loaded to obtain 3DOM CaTiO3-Au as the efficient catalyst for photothermal H2 production. The 3DOM structure facilitates light harvesting and mass diffusion property, while the Au NPs help to improve the charge separation. As a result, 3DOM CaTiO3-Au with optimized Au loading exhibits boosted activity for H2 generation by the synergistic promotion of photocatalysis and thermocatalysis. Considerable H2 is also achieved when the substrates are changed into biomass derivates. The oriented accumulation of electrons on the surface of Au NPs and the presence of Au(I) species are revealed to be the key factors. The present work provides a rational catalyst design to boost hydrogen production through synergistic photocatalysis and thermocatalysis.

    DECLARATIONS

    Authors’ contributions

    Made substantial contributions to conception and design of the study, performed data analysis and interpretation, and wrote the draft of manuscript: Yu X

    Performed data acquisition and provided administrative, technical, and material support: Zhao H

    Performed DFT calculation: Yu Z

    Discussed and revised the manuscript: Gates ID, Hu J

    Availability of data and materials

    Not applicable.

    Financial support and sponsorship

    This work was finacially supported by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).

    Conflicts of interest

    All authors declared that there are no conflicts of interest.

    Ethical approval and consent to participate

    Not applicable.

    Consent for publication

    Not applicable.

    Copyright

    © The Author(s) 2023.

    Supplementary Materials

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    Cite This Article

    OAE Style

    Yu X, Yu Z, Zhao H, Gates ID, Hu J. Photothermal catalytic H2 production over hierarchical porous CaTiO3 with plasmonic gold nanoparticles. Chem Synth 2023;3:3. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/cs.2022.30

    AMA Style

    Yu X, Yu Z, Zhao H, Gates ID, Hu J. Photothermal catalytic H2 production over hierarchical porous CaTiO3 with plasmonic gold nanoparticles. Chemical Synthesis. 2023; 3(1):3. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/cs.2022.30

    Chicago/Turabian Style

    Yu, Xinti, Zechuan Yu, Heng Zhao, Ian D. Gates, Jinguang Hu. 2023. "Photothermal catalytic H2 production over hierarchical porous CaTiO3 with plasmonic gold nanoparticles" Chemical Synthesis. 3, no.1: 3. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/cs.2022.30

    ACS Style

    Yu, X.; Yu Z.; Zhao H.; Gates ID.; Hu J. Photothermal catalytic H2 production over hierarchical porous CaTiO3 with plasmonic gold nanoparticles. Chem. Synth. 20233, 3. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/cs.2022.30

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    Author Biographies

    • Xinti Yu
      Xinti Yu (M.Sc) has completed her Bachelor's degree in electronic information science and technology from Wuhan University of Technology in 2017. Currently, she is a master student at the University of Calgary with the supervision from Dr. Jinguang Hu. She is now working on photocatalyst design and preparation for selective biomass valorization and simultaneous H2 production.
      Xinti Yu
      Xinti Yu (M.Sc) has completed her Bachelor's degree in electronic information science and technology from Wuhan University of Technology in 2017. Currently, she is a master student at the University of Calgary with the supervision from Dr. Jinguang Hu. She is now working on photocatalyst design and preparation for selective biomass valorization and simultaneous H2 production.
    • Zechuan Yu
      Zechuan Yu completed his undergraduate study at University of Science and Technology of China, School of Earth and Space Sciences, in 2013 and received his Ph.D. degree from City University of Hong Kong, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, in 2017. He is now a lecturer working at Wuhan University of Technology, School of Civil Engineering and Architecture. His current research interest mainly focuses on multi-scale modeling of materials and applications of computer science in civil engineering, especially structure health monitoring and green building materials.
      Zechuan Yu
      Zechuan Yu completed his undergraduate study at University of Science and Technology of China, School of Earth and Space Sciences, in 2013 and received his Ph.D. degree from City University of Hong Kong, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, in 2017. He is now a lecturer working at Wuhan University of Technology, School of Civil Engineering and Architecture. His current research interest mainly focuses on multi-scale modeling of materials and applications of computer science in civil engineering, especially structure health monitoring and green building materials.
    • Heng Zhao
      Heng Zhao received his Ph.D. degree from Wuhan University of Technology majoring in Material Science and Engineering in 2019. He is currently a research associate in the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at University of Calgary under the guidance of Prof. Jinguang Hu and Prof. Zhangxin Chen. He has published about 50 articles in journals including Advanced Functional Materials, Chem Catalysis, Nano Energy, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, ACS Catalysis, etc. His research mainly focuses on the design and synthesis of functional catalysts for sustainable hydrogen and value-added bio-products co-production from biomass photorefinery.
      Heng Zhao
      Heng Zhao received his Ph.D. degree from Wuhan University of Technology majoring in Material Science and Engineering in 2019. He is currently a research associate in the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at University of Calgary under the guidance of Prof. Jinguang Hu and Prof. Zhangxin Chen. He has published about 50 articles in journals including Advanced Functional Materials, Chem Catalysis, Nano Energy, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, ACS Catalysis, etc. His research mainly focuses on the design and synthesis of functional catalysts for sustainable hydrogen and value-added bio-products co-production from biomass photorefinery.
    • Ian D. Gates
      Ian D. Gates joined the department of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Calgary in 2004 after working a total of 7 years in industry. He is a registered professional engineer (PEng) in the Province of Alberta and has been a consultant for many small and large energy companies both in Canada and internationally. Dr. Gates holds a BSc with distinction (University of Calgary) and an MASc (University of British Columbia) in chemical engineering, as well as a PhD in chemical engineering with a minor in mathematics from the University of Minnesota.
      His current research interests are in heavy oil and oil sands recovery process design and optimization, thermal (SAGD and CSS) and thermal-solvent (ES-SAGD, SA-CSS) oil recovery processes, cold production of heavy oil with sand (CHOPS) and follow-up process design, reservoir engineering and simulation, reservoir process optimization, reactive reservoir processes and simulation, heat and mass transfer, fluid mechanics, biofilm evolution in porous media, and bioreactor design (think of the reservoir as a bioreactor).
      Ian D. Gates
      Ian D. Gates joined the department of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Calgary in 2004 after working a total of 7 years in industry. He is a registered professional engineer (PEng) in the Province of Alberta and has been a consultant for many small and large energy companies both in Canada and internationally. Dr. Gates holds a BSc with distinction (University of Calgary) and an MASc (University of British Columbia) in chemical engineering, as well as a PhD in chemical engineering with a minor in mathematics from the University of Minnesota.
      His current research interests are in heavy oil and oil sands recovery process design and optimization, thermal (SAGD and CSS) and thermal-solvent (ES-SAGD, SA-CSS) oil recovery processes, cold production of heavy oil with sand (CHOPS) and follow-up process design, reservoir engineering and simulation, reservoir process optimization, reactive reservoir processes and simulation, heat and mass transfer, fluid mechanics, biofilm evolution in porous media, and bioreactor design (think of the reservoir as a bioreactor).
    • Jinguang Hu
      Jinguang Hu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary, Canada. He received Ph.D. degrees from the University of British Columbia, and did his postdoc at the UBC BioProducts Institute (Canada) and Aalto-VTT HYBER center (Academy of Finland's Centre of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials research), respectively. His current research is supported by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) and focuses on biomass valorization, sustainable energy, bioinspired materials/systems, and protein engineering for Energy, Environmental and Biomedical application. He has published over 170 papers including top journals such as Energy & Environmental Science, ACS Catalysis, Advanced Functional Material, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Green Chemistry, etc. He is the External Advisory Board member of the Canada Biomass Energy Network, a member of the "China-Canada Joint Centre for BioEnergy", a Research Fellow of GBIC, a recipient of "S.C. Trindade Award", and an active participator in the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy division.
      Jinguang Hu
      Jinguang Hu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary, Canada. He received Ph.D. degrees from the University of British Columbia, and did his postdoc at the UBC BioProducts Institute (Canada) and Aalto-VTT HYBER center (Academy of Finland's Centre of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials research), respectively. His current research is supported by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) and focuses on biomass valorization, sustainable energy, bioinspired materials/systems, and protein engineering for Energy, Environmental and Biomedical application. He has published over 170 papers including top journals such as Energy & Environmental Science, ACS Catalysis, Advanced Functional Material, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Green Chemistry, etc. He is the External Advisory Board member of the Canada Biomass Energy Network, a member of the "China-Canada Joint Centre for BioEnergy", a Research Fellow of GBIC, a recipient of "S.C. Trindade Award", and an active participator in the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy division.

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