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  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Wenjie Sun, Jiale Mao, Shuang Wang, Lei Zhang, Yonghong Cheng
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(1): 18-34. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1939-4

    Polymer-based dielectric capacitors are widely-used energy storage devices. However, although the functions of dielectrics in applications like high-voltage direct current transmission projects, distributed energy systems, high-power pulse systems and new energy electric vehicles are similar, their requirements can be quite different. Low electric loss is a critical prerequisite for capacitors for electric grids, while high-temperature stability is an essential pre-requirement for those in electric vehicles. This paper reviews recent advances in this area, and categorizes dielectrics in terms of their foremost properties related to their target applications. Requirements for polymer-based dielectrics in various power electronic equipment are emphasized, including high energy storage density, low dissipation, high working temperature and fast-response time. This paper considers innovations including chemical structure modification, composite fabrication and structure re-design, and the enhancements to material performances achieved. The advantages and limitations of these methods are also discussed.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Kai Li, Tengteng Lyu, Junyi He, Ben W. L. Jang
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 929-936. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1912-2

    Five hundred ppm Pd/CeO2 catalyst was prepared and evaluated in selective hydrogenation of acetylene in large excess of ethylene since ceria has been recently found to be a reasonable stand-alone catalyst for this reaction. Pd/CeO2 catalyst could be activated in situ by the feed gas during reactions and the catalyst without reduction showed much better ethylene selectivity than the reduced one in the high temperature range due to the formation of oxygen vacancies by reduction. Excellent ethylene selectivity of ~100% was obtained in the whole reaction temperature range of 50°C–200°C for samples calcined at temperatures of 600°C and 800°C. This could be ascribed to the formation of PdxCe1xO2−y or Pd-O-Ce surface species based on the X-ray diffraction and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy results, indicating the strong interaction between palladium and ceria.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Simin Feng, Xiaoli Zhang, Dunyun Shi, Zheng Wang
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(2): 221-237. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1927-8

    Zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8), composed of Zn ions and imidazolate ligands, is a class of metal-organic frameworks, which possesses a similar structure as conventional aluminosilicate zeolites. This material exhibits inherent porous property, high loading capacity, and pH-sensitive degradation, as well as exceptional thermal and chemical stability. Extensive research effort has been devoted to relevant research aspects ranging from synthesis methods, property characterization to potential applications of ZIF-8. This review focuses on the recent development of ZIF-8 synthesis methods and its promising applications in drug delivery. The potential risks of using ZIF-8 for drug delivery are also summarized.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Ehsan Rahmani, Mohammad Rahmani
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 1100-1111. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1891-3

    A solvothermal method was used to synthesize MIL-101(Fe) and MIL-88(Fe), which were used for alkylation of benzene. The synthesized catalysts were characterized by X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, field emission scanning electron microscope, dynamic light scattering, and BET techniques. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) were modeled to investigate the catalytic performance and existence of mass transfer limitations. Calculated effectiveness factors revealed absence of internal and external mass transfer. Sensitivity analysis revealed best operating conditions over MIL-101 at 120°C and 5 bar and over MIL-88 at 142°C and 9 bar.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Xuewen Hu, Yun Wang, Jinbo Ou Yang, Yang Li, Peng Wu, Hengju Zhang, Dingzhong Yuan, Yan Liu, Zhenyu Wu, Zhirong Liu
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 1029-1038. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1898-9

    In this study, a graphene oxide nanoribbons/chitosan (GONRs/CTS) composite membrane was successfully prepared by encapsulating CTS into GONRs, which were unzipped from multi-walled carbon nanotubes. The GONRs/CTS composite membrane so prepared was characterized using scanning electron microscopy, X-Ray diffraction and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The effects of the experimental conditions such as the pH (2‒7), adsorbent dosage (10‒50 mg), experimental time (5 min–32 h), uranium concentration (25‒300 mg∙L−1), experimental temperature (298 K‒328 K) on the adsorption properties of the composite membrane for the removal of U(VI) were investigated. The results showed that the U(VI) adsorption process of the GONRs/CTS composite membrane was pH-dependent, rapid, spontaneous and endothermic. The adsorption process followed the pseudo-secondary kinetics and Langmuir models. The maximum U(VI) adsorption capacity of the GONRs/CTS composite membrane was calculated to be 320 mg∙g−1. Hence, the GONRs/CTS composite membrane prepared in this study was found to be suitable for separating and recovering uranium from wastewater.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Chuhan Fu, Zhuoxi Li, Zengran Sun, Shaoqu Xie
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(4): 854-871. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1980-3

    Biofuels and bio-based chemicals are getting more and more attention because of their sustainable and renewable properties and wide industrial applications. However, the low concentrations of the targeted products in their fermentation broths, the complicated components of the broths and the high energy-intensive separation and purification process hinder the competitiveness of biofuels and biochemicals with the petro-based ones. Hence, the production and the separation of biofuels and bio-based chemicals in energy-saving, low-cost and greenness ways become hot topics nowadays. This review introduces the separation technologies (salting-out extraction, salting-out, sugaring-out extraction, and sugaring-out) that extract biobutanol, 1,3-propanediol, 2,3-butanediol, acetoin, organic acids and other bio-based chemicals from fermentation broths/aqueous solutions. Salting-out/sugaring-out extraction and salting-out/sugaring-out technologies display the high separating efficiency and the high targeted product yields. In addition, they are easy to operate and require low cost for separating products. Hence, they are the effective and potential technologies for separating targeted products in the wide industrial applications. The successful research into the salting-out/sugaring-out and salting-out/sugaring-out extraction not only affords biofuels and biochemical but also opens a door for the development of novel separation methods.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Njud S. Alharbi, Baowei Hu, Tasawar Hayat, Samar Omar Rabah, Ahmed Alsaedi, Li Zhuang, Xiangke Wang
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 1124-1135. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1923-z

    With the rapid development of industrial, large amounts of different inorganic and organic pollutants are released into the natural environments. The efficient elimination of environmental pollutants, i.e., photocatalytic degradation of persistent organic pollutants into nontoxic organic/inorganic chemicals, in-situ solidification or sorption-reduction of heavy metal ions, is crucial to protect the environment. Nanomaterials with large surface area, active sites and abundant functional groups could form strong surface complexes with different kinds of pollutants and thereby could efficiently eliminate the pollutants from the aqueous solutions. In this review, we mainly focused on the recent works about the synthesis of nanomaterials and their applications in the efficient elimination of different organic and inorganic pollutants from wastewater and discussed the interaction mechanism from batch experimental results, the advanced spectroscopy techniques and theoretical calculations. The adsorption and the photocatalytic reduction of organic pollutants and the sorption/reduction of heavy metal ions are generally considered as the main methods to decrease the concentration of pollutants in the natural environment. This review highlights a new way for the real applications of novel nanomaterials in environmental pollution management, especially for the undergraduate students to understand the recent works in the elimination of different kinds of inorganic and organic chemicals in the natural environmental pollution management.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yingying Jian, Danyao Qu, Lihao Guo, Yujin Zhu, Chen Su, Huanran Feng, Guangjian Zhang, Jia Zhang, Weiwei Wu, Ming-Shui Yao
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(3): 505-517. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-2013-y

    Working temperature, sensitivity, and selectivity are some of the characteristics of the applied gas sensors. How to design and fabricate an ideal gas sensor working at room temperature is still challenging and attracting lots of interest. Two-dimensional (2D) materials with ultra-thin structure have been demonstrated as a family of ideal candidates to achieve this goal. Among them, Ti3C2Tx MXene, a kind of layered sheet synthesized by selectively etching MAX phases materials, shows remarkable potential to be the sensitive materials solely or in a composite. However, their designing rules are still lacking critical thinking from the viewpoint of the intrinsic property of Ti3C2Tx MXene based materials. In this article, two critical features, i.e., the thickness of the sensitive materials, and the scope of the analytes, are elaborated towards Ti3C2Tx MXene based gas sensors after characterizing the performance of sensing reducing gases (NH3 and CO) and oxidizing gas (NO2). First, the thinner the Ti3C2Tx MXene sensitive layer, the better the sensitivity. Second, the Ti3C2Tx MXene based gas sensor is not suitable for strong and moderate oxidation gas due to its ease of oxidation. These two rules are demonstrated, and could be considered with priority both in the future researches and practical applications.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Guoting Xia, Yinuo Huang, Fujiang Li, Licheng Wang, Jinbo Pang, Liwei Li, Kai Wang
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 1039-1051. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1901-5

    A flexible, multi-site tactile and thermal sensor (MTTS) based on polyvinylidene fluoride (resolution 50 × 50) is reported. It can be used to implement spatial mapping caused by tactile and thermal events and record the two-dimensional motion trajectory of a tracked target object. The output voltage and current signal are recorded as a mapping by sensing the external pressure and thermal radiation stimulus, and the response distribution is dynamically observed on the three-dimensional interface. Through the mapping relationship between the established piezoelectric and pyroelectric signals, the piezoelectric component and the pyroelectric component are effectively extracted from the composite signals. The MTTS has a good sensitivity for tactile and thermal detection, and the electrodes have good synchronism. In addition, the signal interference is less than 9.5% and decreases as the pressure decreases after the distance between adjacent sites exceeds 200 µm. The integration of MTTS and signal processing units has potential applications in human-machine interaction systems, health status detection and smart assistive devices.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Xiao Feng, Yang Zhang, Le Kang, Licheng Wang, Chongxiong Duan, Kai Yin, Jinbo Pang, Kai Wang
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(2): 238-250. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1956-3

    The emergence of electronic devices has brought earth-shaking changes to people’s life. However, an external power source may become indispensable to the electronic devices due to the limited capacity of batteries. As one of the possible solutions for the external power sources, the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) provides a novel idea to the increasing number of personal electronic devices. TENG is a new type of energy collector, which has become a hot spot in the field of nanotechnology. It is widely used at the acquisition and conversion of mechanical energy to electric energy through the principle of electrostatic induction. On this basis, the TENG could be integrated with the energy storage system into a self-powered system, which can supply power to the electronic devices and make them work continuously. In this review, TENG’s basic structure as well as its working process and working mode are firstly discussed. The integration method of TENGs with energy storage systems and the related research status are then introduced in detail. At the end of this paper, we put forward some problems and discuss the prospect in the future.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Sanaa Hafeez, Tayeba Safdar, Elena Pallari, George Manos, Elsa Aristodemou, Zhien Zhang, S. M. Al-Salem, Achilleas Constantinou
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(4): 720-754. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1992-z

    With fossil fuel being the major source of energy, CO2 emission levels need to be reduced to a minimal amount namely from anthropogenic sources. Energy consumption is expected to rise by 48% in the next 30 years, and global warming is becoming an alarming issue which needs to be addressed on a thorough technical basis. Nonetheless, exploring CO2 capture using membrane contactor technology has shown great potential to be applied and utilised by industry to deal with post- and pre-combustion of CO2. A systematic review of the literature has been conducted to analyse and assess CO2 removal using membrane contactors for capturing techniques in industrial processes. The review began with a total of 2650 papers, which were obtained from three major databases, and then were excluded down to a final number of 525 papers following a defined set of criteria. The results showed that the use of hollow fibre membranes have demonstrated popularity, as well as the use of amine solvents for CO2 removal. This current systematic review in CO2 removal and capture is an important milestone in the synthesis of up to date research with the potential to serve as a benchmark databank for further research in similar areas of work. This study provides the first systematic enquiry in the evidence to research further sustainable methods to capture and separate CO2.

  • VIEWS & COMMENTS
    Giuseppe Portale
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 1122-1123. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1941-x
  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Mehraneh Ghavami, Mostafa Aghbolaghy, Jafar Soltan, Ning Chen
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 937-947. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1900-6

    Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are among the major sources of air pollution. Catalytic ozonation is an efficient process for removing VOCs at lower reaction temperature compared to catalytic oxidation. In this study, a series of alumina supported single and mixed manganese and cobalt oxides catalysts were used for ozonation of acetone at room temperature. The influence of augmenting the single Mn and Co catalysts were investigated on the performance and structure of the catalyst. The manganese and cobalt single and mixed oxides catalysts of the formula Mn10%-CoX and Co10%-MnX (where X= 0, 2.5%, 5%, or 10%) were prepared. It was found that addition of Mn and Co at lower loading levels (2.5% or 5%) to single metal oxide catalysts enhanced the catalytic activity. The mixed oxides catalysts of (Mn10%-Co2.5%) and (Mn10%-Co5%) led to acetone conversion of about 84%. It is concluded that lower oxidation state of the secondary metal improves ozone decomposition and oxidation of acetone.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Uthen Thubsuang, Suphawadee Chotirut, Apisit Thongnok, Archw Promraksa, Mudtorlep Nisoa, Nicharat Manmuanpom, Sujitra Wongkasemjit, Thanyalak Chaisuwan
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 1072-1086. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1899-8

    In this study, polybenzoxazine (PBZ)-based carbon microspheres were prepared via a facile method using a mixture of formaldehyde (F) and dimethylformamide (DMF) as the solvent. The PBZ microspheres were successfully obtained at the F/DMF weight ratios of 0.4 and 0.6. These microspheres exhibited high nitrogen contents after carbonization. The microstructures of all the samples showed an amorphous phase and a partial graphitic phase. The porous carbon with the F/DMF ratio of 0.4 showed significantly higher specific capacitance (275.1 Fg‒1) than the reference carbon (198.9 Fg‒1) at 0.05 Ag‒1. This can be attributed to the synergistic electrical double-layer capacitor and pseudo-capacitor behaviors of the porous carbon with the F/DMF ratio of 0.4. The presence of nitrogen/oxygen functionalities induced pseudo-capacitance in the microspheres, and hence increased their total specific capacitance. After activation with CO2, the specific surface area of the carbon microspheres with the F/DMF ratio of 0.4 increased from 349 to 859 m2g‒1 and the specific capacitance increased to 424.7 Fg‒1. This value is approximately two times higher than that of the reference carbon. The results indicated that the F/DMF ratio of 0.4 was suitable for preparing carbon microspheres with good supercapacitive performance. The nitrogen/oxygen functionalities and high specific surface area of the microspheres were responsible for their high capacitance.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Bangxian Peng, Rusen Zhou, Ying Chen, Song Tu, Yingwu Yin, Liyi Ye
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 1006-1017. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1924-y

    Nano-zero-valent irons (nZVI) have shown great potential to function as universal and low-cost magnetic adsorbents. Yet, the rapid agglomeration and easy surface corrosion of nZVI in solution greatly hinders their overall applicability. Here, carboxylated cellulose nanocrystals (CCNC), widely available from renewable biomass resources, were prepared and applied for the immobilization of nZVI. In doing so, carboxylated cellulose nanocrystals supporting nano-zero-valent irons (CCNC-nZVI) were obtained via an in-situ growth method. The CCNC-nZVI were characterized and then evaluated for their performances in wastewater treatment. The results obtained show that nZVI nanoparticles could attach to the carboxyl and hydroxyl groups of CCNC, and well disperse on the CCNC surface with a size of ~10 nm. With the CCNC acting as corrosion inhibitors improving the reaction activity of nZVI, CCNC-nZVI exhibited an improved dispersion stability and electron utilization efficacy. The Pb(II) adsorption capacity of CCNC-nZVI reached 509.3 mg·g1 (298.15 K, pH= 4.0), significantly higher than that of CCNC. The adsorption was a spontaneous exothermic process and could be perfectly fitted by the pseudo-second-order kinetics model. This study may provide a novel and green method for immobilizing magnetic nanomaterials by using biomass-based resources to develop effective bio-adsorbents for wastewater decontamination.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yonghyun Kim, Huiwen Liu, Yi Liu, Boa Jin, Hao Zhang, Wenjing Tian, Chan Im
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(1): 187-197. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1931-z

    Cesium lead halide perovskite (CsPbX3, X= Cl, Br, I) quantum dots (QDs) and their partly Mn2+-substituted QDs (CsPb1–xMnxX3) attract considerable attention owing to their unique photoluminescence (PL) efficiencies. The two types of QDs, having different PL decay dynamics, needed to be further investigated in a form of aggregates to understand their solid-state-induced exciton dynamics in conjunction with their behaviors upon degradation to achieve practical applications of those promising QDs. However, thus far, these QDs have not been sufficiently investigated to obtain deep insights related to the long-term stability of their PL properties as aggregated solid-states. Therefore, in this study, we comparatively examined CsPbX3- and CsPb1–xMnxX3-type QDs stocked for>50 d under dark ambient conditions by using excitation wavelength-dependent PL quantum yield and time-resolved PL spectroscopy. These investigations were performed with powder samples in addition to solutions to determine the influence of the inter-QD interaction of the aged QD aggregates on their radiative decays. It turns out that the Mn2+-substituted QDs exhibited long-lasting PL quantum efficiencies, while the unsubstituted CsPbX3-type QDs exhibited a drastic reduction of their PL efficiencies. And the obtained PL traces were clearly sensitive to the sample status. This is discussed with the possible interaction depending on the size and distance of the QD aggregates.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yixing Wang, Liheng Dai, Kai Qu, Lu Qin, Linzhou Zhuang, Hu Yang, Zhi Xu
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(4): 892-901. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-2011-0

    Photocatalytic membranes have received increasing attention due to their excellent separation and photodegradation of organic contaminants in wastewater. Herein, we bound Ag-AgBr nanoparticles onto a synthesized polyacrylonitrile-ethanolamine (PAN-ETA) membrane with the aid of a chitosan (CS)-TiO2 layer via vacuum filtration and in-situ partial reduction. The introduction of the CS-TiO2 layer improved surface hydrophilicity and provided attachment sites for the Ag-AgBr nanoparticles. The PAN-ETA/CS-TiO2/Ag-AgBr photocatalytic membranes showed a relatively high water permeation flux (~ 47 L·m–2·h–1·bar–1) and dyes rejection (methyl orange: 88.22%; congo red: 95%; methyl blue: 97.41%; rose bengal: 99.98%). Additionally, the composite membranes exhibited potential long-term stability for dye/salt separation (dye rejection: ~97%; salt rejection: ~6.5%). Moreover, the methylene blue and rhodamine B solutions (20 mL, 10 mg·L−1) were degraded approximately 90.75% and 96.81% in batch mode via the synthesized photocatalytic membranes under visible light irradiation for 30 min. This study provides a feasible method for the combination of polymeric membranes and inorganic catalytic materials.

  • EDITORIAL
    Yanying Wei, Gongping Liu, Jianquan Luo, Libo Li, Zhi Xu
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(4): 717-719. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-021-2053-y
  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yu Cao, Xinyun Zhu, Xingyu Tong, Jing Zhou, Jian Ni, Jianjun Zhang, Jinbo Pang
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 997-1005. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1906-0

    Thin film solar cells have been proved the next generation photovoltaic devices due to their low cost, less material consumption and easy mass production. Among them, micro-crystalline Si and Ge based thin film solar cells have advantages of high efficiency and ultrathin absorber layers. Yet individual junction devices are limited in photoelectric conversion efficiency because of the restricted solar spectrum range for its specific absorber. In this work, we designed and simulated a multi-junction solar cell with its four sub-cells selectively absorbing the full solar spectrum including the ultraviolet, green, red as well as near infrared range, respectively. By tuning the Ge content, the record efficiency of 24.80% has been realized with the typical quadruple junction structure of a-Si:H/a-Si0.9Ge0.1:H/µc-Si:H/µc-Si0.5Ge0.5:H. To further reduce the material cost, thickness dependent device performances have been conducted. It can be found that the design of total thickness of 4 mm is the optimal device design in balancing the thickness and the PCE. While the design of ultrathin quadruple junction device with total thickness of 2 mm is the optimized device design regarding cost and long-term stability with a little bit more reduction in PCE. These results indicated that our solar cells combine the advantages of low cost and high stability. Our work may provide a general guidance rule of utilizing the full solar spectrum for developing high efficiency and ultrathin multi-junction solar cells.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yaqin Wang, Lin Yang, Chunxiang Dall’Agnese, Gang Chen, Ai-Jun Li, Xiao-Feng Wang
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(1): 180-186. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1917-x

    SnO2 has been proven to be an effective electron transport layer (ETL) material for perovskite solar cells (PSCs) owing to its excellent electrical and optical properties. Here, we introduce a viable spray coating method for the preparation of SnO2 films. Then, we employ a SnO2 film prepared using the spray coating method as an ETL for PSCs. The PSC based on the spray-coated SnO2 ETL achieves a power conversion efficiency of 17.78%, which is comparable to that of PSCs based on conventional spin-coated SnO2 films. The large-area SnO2 films prepared by spray coating exhibit good repeatability for device performance. This study shows that SnO2 films prepared by spray coating can be applied as ETLs for stable and high-efficiency PSCs. Because the proposed method involves low material consumption, it enables the low-cost and large-scale production of PSCs.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Wei Wang, Yanying Wei, Jiang Fan, Jiahao Cai, Zong Lu, Li Ding, Haihui Wang
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(4): 793-819. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-2016-8

    Two-dimensional (2D) materials have emerged as a class of promising materials to prepare high-performance 2D membranes for various separation applications. The precise control of the interlayer nanochannel/sub-nanochannel between nanosheets or the pore size of nanosheets within 2D membranes enables 2D membranes to achieve promising molecular sieving performance. To date, many 2D membranes with high permeability and high selectivity have been reported, exhibiting high separation performance. This review presents the development, progress, and recent breakthrough of different types of 2D membranes, including membranes based on porous and non-porous 2D nanosheets for various separations. Separation mechanism of 2D membranes and their fabrication methods are also reviewed. Last but not the least, challenges and future directions of 2D membranes for wide utilization are discussed in brief.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Peiyu Zhang, Hairui Wang, Jingcheng Hao, Jiwei Cui
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(3): 562-570. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1946-5

    A two-stage leaching process, namely, high-pressure acid leaching-atmospheric acid leaching, was used to treat laterite ores under mild conditions. The leaching ratio of Ni was low because of adsorption and incomplete leaching. In this work, surfactants were used as additives to boost the leaching ratio of Ni. The effect of surfactant type (cationic, anionic, and nonionic surfactants) on the leaching ratio of Ni was investigated. Leaching results showed that stearyl trimethyl ammonium chloride (STAC) apparently increased the leaching ratios of valuable metals. The variation in the physicochemical properties of the lixiviant and the residue improved the leaching ratio of Ni in the presence of STAC. Kinetics analysis indicated that the leaching process was controlled by chemical reaction.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yiyi Fan, Jinyong Li, Saidi Wang, Xiuxia Meng, Yun Jin, Naitao Yang, Bo Meng, Jiaquan Li, Shaomin Liu
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(4): 882-891. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1990-1

    Hydrogen fuel has been embraced as a potential long-term solution to the growing demand for clean energy. A membrane-assisted separation is promising in producing high-purity H2. Molecular sieving membranes (MSMs) are endowed with high gas selectivity and permeability because their well-defined micropores can facilitate molecular exclusion, diffusion, and adsorption. In this work, MXene nanosheets intercalated with Ni2+ were assembled to form an MSM supported on Al2O3 hollow fiber via a vacuum-assisted filtration and drying process. The prepared membranes showed excellent H2/CO2 mixture separation performance at room temperature. Separation factor reached 615 with a hydrogen permeance of 8.35 × 108 mol·m2·s1·Pa1. Compared with the original Ti3C2Tx/Al2O3 hollow fiber membranes, the permeation of hydrogen through the Ni2+-Ti3C2Tx/Al2O3 membrane was considerably increased, stemming from the strong interaction between the negatively charged MXene nanosheets and Ni2+. The interlayer spacing of MSMs was tuned by Ni2+. During 200-hour testing, the resultant membrane maintained an excellent gas separation without any substantial performance decline. Our results indicate that the Ni2+ tailored Ti3C2Tx/Al2O3 hollow fiber membranes can inspire promising industrial applications.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Jie Lan, Daizong Qi, Jie Song, Peng Liu, Yi Liu, Yun-Xiang Pan
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 948-955. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1920-2

    Cobalt hydroxide has been emerging as a promising catalyst for the electrocatalytic oxidation reactions, including the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and glucose oxidation reaction (GOR). Herein, we prepared cobalt hydroxide nanoparticles (CoHP) and cobalt hydroxide nanosheets (CoHS) on nickel foam. In the electrocatalytic OER, CoHS shows an overpotential of 306 mV at a current density of 10 mA·cm–2. This is enhanced as compared with that of CoHP (367 mV at 10 mA·cm–2). In addition, CoHS also exhibits an improved performance in the electrocatalytic GOR. The improved electrocatalytic performance of CoHS could be due to the higher ability of the two-dimensional nanosheets on CoHS in electron transfer. These results are useful for fabricating efficient catalysts for electrocatalytic oxidation reactions.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Kai Qu, Kang Huang, Zhi Xu
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(4): 820-836. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1997-7

    Two-dimensional membranes have attracted significant attention due to their superior characteristics, and their ability to boost both flux and selectivity have led to their reputation as potential next-generation separation membranes. Among them, emerging MXene-based membranes play significant roles in the competitive membrane-separation field. In this mini-review, we systematically discuss the assembly and separation mechanisms of these membranes. Moreover, we highlight strategies based on the crosslinking of MXene nanosheets and the construction of additional nanochannels that further enhance the permeabilities and anti-swelling properties of MXene-based membranes and meet the requirements of practical applications, such as gas-molecule sieving, ion sieving, and other small-molecule sieving. MXene nanosheets can also be used as additives that introduce specific functionalities into hybrid membranes. In addition, extended applications that use MXenes as scaffolds are also discussed.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Faiz Almansour, Monica Alberto, Rupesh S. Bhavsar, Xiaolei Fan, Peter M. Budd, Patricia Gorgojo
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(4): 872-881. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-2001-2

    Physical aging is currently a major obstacle for the commercialization of PIM-1 membranes for gas separation applications. A well-known approach to reversing physical aging effects of PIM-1 membranes at laboratory scale is soaking them in lower alcohols, such as methanol and ethanol. However, this procedure does not seem applicable at industrial level, and other strategies must be investigated. In this work, a regeneration method with alcohol vapors (ethanol or methanol) was developed to recover permeability of aged PIM-1 membranes, in comparison with the conventional soaking-in-liquid approach. The gas permeability and separation performance, before and post the regeneration methods, were assessed using a binary mixture of CO2 and CH4 (1:1, v:v). Our results show that an 8-hour methanol vapor treatment was sufficient to recover the original gas permeability, reaching a CO2 permeability>7000 barrer.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Sebastian Leaper, Ahmed Abdel-Karim, Patricia Gorgojo
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2021, 15(4): 755-774. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-020-1993-y

    Membrane distillation (MD) is a thermal-based separation technique with the potential to treat a wide range of water types for various applications and industries. Certain challenges remain however, which prevent it from becoming commercially widespread including moderate permeate flux, decline in separation performance over time due to pore wetting and high thermal energy requirements. Nevertheless, its attractive characteristics such as high rejection (ca. 100%) of non-volatile species, its ability to treat highly saline solutions under low operating pressures (typically atmospheric) as well as its ability to operate at low temperatures, enabling waste-heat integration, continue to drive research interests globally. Of particular interest is the class of carbon-based nanomaterials which includes graphene and carbon nanotubes, whose wide range of properties have been exploited in an attempt to overcome the technical challenges that MD faces. These low dimensional materials exhibit properties such as high specific surface area, high strength, tuneable hydrophobicity, enhanced vapour transport, high thermal and electrical conductivity and others. Their use in MD has resulted in improved membrane performance characteristics like increased permeability and reduced fouling propensity. They have also enabled novel membrane capabilities such as in-situ fouling detection and localised heat generation. In this review we provide a brief introduction to MD and describe key membrane characteristics and fabrication methods. We then give an account of the various uses of carbon nanomaterials for MD applications, focussing on polymeric membrane systems. Future research directions based on the findings are also suggested.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Krishnaveni Kalaiappan, Subadevi Rengapillai, Sivakumar Marimuthu, Raja Murugan, Premkumar Thiru
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 976-987. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1897-x

    Hierarchically-porous carbon nano sheets were prepared as a conductive additive for sulfur/polyacrylonitrile (S/PAN) composite cathodes using a simple heat treatment. In this study, kombucha (that was derived from symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) carbon (KC) and graphene oxide (GO) were used as a carbon host matrix. These rational-designed S/PAN/KC/GO hybrid composites greatly suppress the diffusion of polysulfides by providing strong physical and chemical adsorption. The cathode delivered an initial discharge capacity of 1652 mAh·g−1 at a 0.1 C rate and a 100th cycle capacity of 1193 mAh·g−1. The nano sheets with embedded hierarchical pores create a conductive network that provide effective electron transfer and fast electrochemical kinetics. Further, the nitrogen component of PAN can raise the affinity/interaction of the carbon host with lithium polysulfides, supporting the cyclic performance. The results exploit the cumulative contribution of both the conductive carbon matrix and PAN in the enhanced performance of the positive electrode.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Weihong Zhang, Dan Wang, Jie-Xin Wang, Yuan Pu, Jian-Feng Chen
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 1087-1099. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1895-z

    In this work, we developed a continuous preparation strategy for the production of high-solids-content waterborne polyurethane (WPU) emulsions via high-gravity-assisted emulsification in a rotating packed bed (RPB) reactor. By adjusting the experimental parameters and formula, WPU emulsions with a high solids content of 55% and a low viscosity were prepared. Preliminary applications of the high-solids-content WPU as a thermally insulating material were demonstrated. RPB emulsification is an economical and environmentally friendly production strategy because of the low energy consumption, short emulsification time, and effective devolatilization. This study demonstrated an effective method for preparation of high-solids-content WPU, moving toward commercialization and industrialization.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Chao Wang, Jun Chen, Jihua He, Jing Jiang, Qinyong Zhang
    Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering, 2020, 14(6): 1065-1071. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11705-019-1909-x

    Micro-arc oxidation (MAO) is an efficient approach to improve the hardness, wear resistance, and other properties of aluminum alloys. In order to investigate the effect of the electrolyte concentration on the properties of MAO coatings for LY12 alloy, the voltage variation during the MAO process was recorded. The surface morphologies and phase compositions of the coatings produced with different electrolytes were investigated using scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction, respectively. The roughness and thickness of the coatings were measured using a pocket roughness meter and an eddy-current thickness meter, respectively. The tribological performances of the coatings were investigated against GCr15 bearing steel on a ball-on-disc wear tester in open air. The results showed that with an increase in the Na2SiO3 content, the working voltage of the MAO process decreased, the roughness and thickness of the coatings increased significantly, and the relative content of the α-Al2O3 phase decreased. With an increase in the KOH content, the working voltage decreased slightly, the roughness and thickness of the coatings increased slightly, and the α- and γ-Al2O3 phase contents remained unchanged. The friction coefficient and wear rate of the coatings increased with an increase in the Na2SiO3 and KOH concentrations. A decrease in the porosity and roughness and an increase in the α-Al2O3 content of the coatings reduced their wear mass loss.