New paper published in ACS Energy Letters on continuous Li-ion harvesting from seawater

new paper published in ACS Energy Letters on continuous electrochemical lithium-ion extraction. We used a redox electrolyte “engine” to drive the ion transfer (in our case: potassium ferricyanide). Employing a pair of ceramic lithium superionic conductor (LISICON) membranes meant that only Lithium ions were accessible to the redox electrolyte for charge compensation. And to complement the design, we used an anion exchange membrane to separate the inflow (e.g., seawater) from a recovery solution. By this way, we obtained an electrochemical system for the continuous extraction of Lithium ions. This sets this technology apart from earlier works (including our contributions) that relied on a cyclic operation to obtain ion separation. Yet, this is just one of many more steps towards seeing such technology toward application; future research must critically address cell design, optimization of the Li-membranes, and investigating the robustness and durability of continuous operation.

This work was the result of the collaboration of our Ph.D. students Lei Wang, Stefanie Arnold, Panyu Ren, and our former Postdoc (now group leader at Bavarian Center for Battery Technology (BayBatt)Qingsong Wang, as well as our Chinese collaborators Jun Jin and Zahoyin Wen (Chinese Academy of Sciences).

New paper published on the ion selectivity of carbon nanopores

New paper published in Desalination on the ion selectivity of carbon nanopores. It is well known that electrolyte confinement inside carbon nanopores strongly affects ion electrosorption in capacitive deionization. A thorough understanding of the intricate pore size influence enables enhanced charge storage performance and desalination in addition to ion separation. In subnanometer pores, where the pore size is smaller than hydrated ion size, a dehydration energy barrier must be overcome before the ions can be electrosorbed into the pores. Ion sieving is observed when the dehydration energy is larger than the applied energy. However, when a high electrochemical potential is used, the ions can desolvate and enter the pores. Capitalizing on the difference in size and dehydration energy barriers, this work applies the subnanometer porous carbon material, and a high electrochemical ion selectivity for Cs+ and K+ over Na+, Li+, Mg2+, and Ca2+ is observed. This establishes a viable way for selective heavy metal removal by varying pore and solvated ion sizes. Our work also shows the transition from double-layer capacitance to diffusion-limited electrochemical features in narrow ultramicropores.

New paper published in Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry on wastewater treatment using semiconductor photocatalysts

New paper published in Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry on “Recent advances in wastewater treatment using semiconductor photocatalysts”. Can’t decide if you like water remediation or photocatalysis/semiconductors more? They both make a great match! Read about synergies and future possibilities in our latest review article in Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry. The team of Prof. Xiao Su (Jaeyoung Hong & Ki-Hyun Cho) and I explore this interesting interfacial research – interfacial in double meaning: at the interface of fluid and solid, and at the interface of material science/electrochemistry and water research. It is exciting to explore semiconductors, for example, to target emerging contaminants, such as perfluorinated compounds.