School of Chemical Engineering

The research of the Clean Energy & Water Group focuses on design and preparation of advanced materials for electrochemical energy storage, water purification, low-temperature methane combustion, and carbon dioxide utilization.

Current research projects include:

  • Optimisation and configuration of electrode materials for maximizing supercapacitor performance
  • Development of graphene electrode for Li-ion batteries
  • Development of silver-containing materials as disinfectants
  • Graphene-based photocatalysts for water purification
  • Synthesis of hierarchical zeolite catalysts for low-temperature methane combustion
  • Mesoporous silica spheres as gene and drug carriers
  • Self-assembly of microspheres for fabricating 3D colloidal photonic crystals and macroporous structures as sensors and waveguides.

The overall objective of the research group is to develop novel high-surface-area materials with prescribed surface and morphological properties for emerging applications and for upgrading existing technologies.

The research of the Clean Energy & Water Group involves international and national collaborations with the following organisations:

  • JIUTAI Energy (China)
  • Environmental and Water Industry (EWI) Council (Singapore)
  • Nanijing University (China), Sichuan University (China)
  • Qingdao University (China), Beijing University (China)
  • Beijing Institute of Technology (China)
  • Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal (France)
  • Duke University (USA)
  • University of New South Wales
  • Advanced Water Management Centre
  • Curtin University of Technology.

The research also involves collaborations with many UQ colleagues.

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George Zhao’s Research

Project: Toward Sustainable Electrochemical Energy Storage Technology

This project aims to paving the way through sustainable sodium-ion capacitor EES system by solving the fundamental key issues and addressing grand challenges using both experimental and computational methods, including in-situ analysis techniques.

The specific objectives of this project are:

  1. Develop innovative electrode materials
  2. Understand charging mechanisms at both electrodes of the NIC
  3. Understand dynamics of charge transfer
  4. Investigate and understand the nature of SEI
  5. Evaluate NIC device properties and performance. 

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PhD Student Projects:
Yilan Wu

Project: Niobium-based anode materials for hybrid sodium-ion capacitors

The project aims at producing Nb2O5-based anode materials with desirable electrochemical performance in hybrid NICs.

To synthesize Nb2O5-based anode materials with well-defined properties suitable for NICs.

To investigate pseudocapacitive behaviours of Nb2O5.

To investigate sodium-ion storage mechanisms of Nb2O5 by using in-situ and ex-situ characterization techniques.

Hao Lu

Project: Porous carbon electrode materials for supercapacitors

Hao Lu received his Bachelor degree in Material Chemistry from the Ocean University of China in Qingdao, in 2009. He is now pursuing a PhD degree in Chemical Engineering under the supervision of Prof George Zhao in UQ. His research focuses on porous carbon, especially cellulose-derived, electrode materials for supercapacitors. It is the third year now for his PhD programme.

Yverick Rangom

Project: In-situ Electrochemical Characterisation of Intrinsic Properties of Functional Battery Materials

Yverick is am developing a new, practical and accessible way to characterise intrinsic properties of materials with significant impact on the electrochemical performance of a battery. Electrochemical (EC) tests are, at the same time, the closest to real-world battery operations and ones of the most practical tests to conduct. However, probing the active material chemistry of battery materials with EC testing remains under-developed, as it requires significant refinement to both the physical design of test-electrodes and theoretical understanding of the test data.

Rohit Gaddam

Rohit’s research interests are focused on the synthesis of hard carbons for alkali-ion batteries. He has produced hard carbons from bio-sources like oils, natural hydrocarbons and cellulose, and have tested the sodium-ion and lithium-ion storage capabilities. His research interest lies in the development of carbon materials for next-generation batteries and investigation of the ion-storage mechanism. Rohit has been awarded IPRS and UQ Centennial Scholarships for his PhD study. He has previously worked at CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology as a researcher. He has also carried out research work at CSIR-Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute and CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute in India. 

Dongfang Yang

Project: Transition-metal oxides anode materials for sodium-ion energy storage devices

The objective of this PhD project is to design transition-metal oxides as anode materials for sodium ion energy storage, and understand the sodium ions storage mechanism as well. The transition-metal oxides  generally show high specific capacity but suffer from large volume changes which causes poor electrochemical properties. Another work of this project is to solve this problem by introducing graphene, which also enhances electric conductivity and ionic conductivity.

Xin Fan

Xin's project is “High energy-density rechargeable batteries beyond Lithium-ion batteries: the next generation of energy storage based on multivalent metals”. The main aim is to achieve proper cathode materials for the batteries.

Qinglan Zhao

Qinglan's research is focused on novel organic materials as electrode materials for sodium-ion storage systems, including the sodium-ion batteries and hybrid sodium-ion capacitors. Her project is to explore the suitable organic materials and confirm their sodium-ion storage mechanism in the sodium-ion storage systems.

 
Group Leader

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Staff
  • Miss Xiaoming Sun (Lab Manager)
  • Dr Tim Duignan (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
  • Zoe Nilsen (Administrative Assistant)

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PhD Students
  • Dongfang Yang
  • Rohit Gaddam
  • Hao Lu
  • Qinglan Zhao
  • Xin Fan
  • Yilan Wu
  • Yverick Rangom

Professor Zhao has been teaching a postgraduate student course, Colloids and Surfaces, and a couple of undergraduate student courses, such as Chemical Reaction Engineering, Applied Heterogeneous Catalysis, Materials Science and Engineering, and Chemical Engineering Principles.

Team Location

Room 132, Level 1
Don Nicklin Building (74),
The University of Queensland

Group Leader:

Professor George Zhao
Email icon george.zhao@uq.edu.au
Telephone Icon +61-7-334 69997 (Office)
Telephone Icon +61-7-336 54743 (Laboratory)
Fax Icon +61 7 3365 4199

Postal Address

School of Chemical Engineering
Building 74, Don Nicklin Building
College Road
The University of Queensland
St Lucia QLD 4072 Australia.

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Group Leader Biography

George Zhao is Professor and ARC Laureate Fellow with the School of Chemical Engineering at The University of Queensland. After he received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from UQ in 1999, he worked as a UQ postdoctoral research fellow until 2011. Professor Zhao then joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore as an Assistant Professor; returning to UQ School of Chemical Engineering in 2011 as Professor and ARC Future Fellow. 

George’s research program focuses on novel porous materials for energy and environmental applications. His research interests include microporous zeolite catalysts, mesoporous adsorbents, three-dimensional macro porous crystals and porous carbon materials including graphene. His current research focus is on development of porous electrode materials for sustainable energy, including energy storage.

George has been an ARC Future Fellow, UQ Vice-Chancellor's Research and Teaching Fellow, and ARC Laureate Fellow. He was awarded Thousand-Talent Professor of Peking University, second prize of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in 2016. 

His joint/adjunct positions have included Si-Yuan Professor of Nanjing University, Guest Professor of Sichuan University, and Taishan Professor of Qingdao University.