Haining Tian

Wallenberg Academy Fellow 2019

Engineering and Technology

Associate Professor Haining Tian

Uppsala University

Will develop catalysts for the solar fuels of the future

In the fossil fuel-free world of the future, vehicles could be powered by hydrogen gas or carbon-based fuel produced from water and carbon dioxide. Wallenberg Academy Fellow Haining Tian aims to develop special nanoparticles that use solar energy to catalyze the reaction necessary for the creation of fossil-free fuels. 

Chemical catalysts are necessary to transform water and carbon dioxide into hydrogen gas or carbon-based fuels. Researchers previously used metal oxides, but have recently become interested in polymer photocatalysts; these are cheaper and more environmentally friendly. 

However, one problem is that they are not very soluble in water, which makes them inefficient. Associate Professor Haining Tian from Uppsala University is working on converting polymer photocatalysts to nanoparticles called polymer dots or Pdots. These dissolve more easily in water, which means that the surfaces for catalyzing chemical reactions are bigger. 

Haining Tian will now develop water soluble Pdots that efficiently catalyze the chemical reactions (water reduction, water oxidation and carbon dioxide reduction) that are needed to split water and reduce carbon dioxide. To understand how these chemical processes occur, he will study them in detail using various spectroscopy methods. Eventually, he will combine all the reactions into one system that can produce the solar fuel of the future. 

Foto: Marcus Marcetic