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First-time Reported Nanoporous Carbon Material for High-efficient Capacitive Deionization

Published: Dec 25,2019

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) has been long-term promoting and supporting a number of Research Project Grants to encourage critical material development, in order to tackle water resource problems in Taiwan. Two National Tai-wan University (NTU) scholars supported by the MoST. Prof. Wu from Chemical Engineering Department first developed the innovative material, then Prof. Hou from Graduate Institute of Environmental Engineering successfully established the high-efficient capacitive deionization system with the innovative material.

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The two scholars synergized two projects from MoST, and successfully developed world-leading innovative technology - Nanoporous Carbon Material for High-efficient Capacitive De-ionization. The research achievements have been published in Nanoscale and featured as a journal cover.

Innovative nanoporous carbon material with high conductivity and high electrosorption

In terms of the development of key materials, Prof. Wu’s team has developed novel nitrogen-doped nanoporous carbon derived from zeolitic imidazolate metal organic framework (ZIF-8), which exhibits large surface area to enhance electrosorption capacities.

To further improve the performance, the NTU research team prepared the materials with gold-nanoparticle-embedded ZIF-8 framework, followed by carbonization, or introducing poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDTO), a highly conductive polymer, to co-carbonize with ZIF-8 framework.

The research results showed that the modified nitrogen-doped porous carbon materials by either gold-nanoparticle-embedded or PEDTO introduction can be applied as promising electrode ma-terials with large surface area, hierarchical porous structure, and excellent electrical conductivi-ty. The developed novel material exhibits a high electrosorption capacity of 16.2 mg/g, which is over three-time higher than the commercially available activated carbon, and greatly enhance the application advantages in electrochemical desalination.

In the field of innovative water technology, Prof. Hou has been committed to the development of innovative capacitive deionization (CDI) for a long time, and he is also a committee member of the International CDI research organization. The CDI technology is an innovative, low ener-gy-consumption water treatment process, which employs nanoporous carbon materials as elec-trodes, and removes salts and charged pollutants by ion storage.

This technology can be applied in desalination, hard water softening, heavy metal removal, ar-senic removal from groundwater, reclaimed water and wastewater mining etc., which is there-fore regarded as one of the most promising technologies in the world. Prof. Wu and Prof. Hou reported the highest electrosorption capacity of 16.2 mg/g achieved at a low electrical voltage of 1.2 V for the first time in the world.

In addition, this world-leading CDI technology has been verified in the actual environment in pilot scale for technology demonstration. The research achievements of this project have al-ready attracted the industrial attention and been moving towards commercialization to assist technology upgrade of the water technology industry in Taiwan, which will ultimately solve the sustainability issues such as the imbalance of water resource and material flows in Taiwan.

Under the long-term support of the MOST, the collaboration of NTU research teams on the join-development of nanoporous carbon materials for capacitive deionization has attracted con-siderable attention with international reputation and recognition. Prof. Wu received the Hum-boldt Scholar from Germany, the Lectureship Award from the American Chemical Society, the Asia-Pacific Catalysis Outstanding Young Scholar Award, etc.

Meanwhile, Prof. Hou has formed an international research team including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment and other well-known research institutes to develop promising electrochemical technologies and to continue striving for groundbreaking research.

In addition, the industrial value of the CDI technology is validated in the startup company. The technology is very promising to be used in wastewater treatment for both domestic and oversea semiconductor factories and chemical industries to mitigate water pollution, enhance water re-cyclability, and to meet the ultimate goal of green, clean and sustainable water resources.

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