At the 2020 National Science and Technology Awards Conference held on November 3, the first prize of the Natural Science Award, regarded as “the strongest originality and the highest scientific value”, was awarded to the Dalian Chinese Academy of Sciences, led by Academician Bao Xinhe of the Chinese Academy of Sciences The “Nano Confined Catalysis” project of the team of the Institute of Chemical Physics (Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics for short).
As a core technology, catalysis plays a decisive role in the fields of energy conversion, material synthesis, environmental protection, life and health, and the “Nano-Limited Catalysis” project led by the academician Bao Xinhe uses micro to “millimeter” nano-scale The spatial and interface confinement effects modulate the electronic energy state of the catalytic system to achieve precise control of the catalytic performance.
Photo by Academician Bao Xinhe Xie Zhenlin
Decrypt the “black box”
In modern chemical industry, the production of most products is closely related to the catalytic process. Mankind has been exploring the construction principle and catalytic mechanism of the active center that plays a key role in the catalytic reaction. However, for a long time, the catalytic process has been regarded as a “black box”, revealing that this “black box” will greatly promote the optimal utilization of resources and the creation of high-efficiency catalysts.
For twenty years, the team led by Bao Xinhe has been devoted to researching this “black box” secret.
After unremitting and dedicated research and practice, Academician Bao Xinhe and his research team used nano-scale space and interface confinement effects to modulate the electronic energy state of the catalytic system, and achieved precise regulation of catalytic performance. “Domain Catalysis” concept.
“We have given the possibility in the’black box’, and thus have a path of precise regulation.” Bao Xinhe said.
As for what this “precise regulation” can do, Bao Xinhe cited the most concerned example of clean and efficient use of coal.
In the past hundred years, in order to obtain low-carbon olefins such as ethylene, propylene, butene, etc. from coal, the technology commonly used in the world is traditional Fischer-Tropsch synthesis technology, which is limited by the principle of catalysis. This process requires a large amount of water and energy consumption. Big.
With the formation and improvement of the concept of nano-limiting and interface-limiting, Baoxin and the research team took a new approach, making the new technology not require the water-gas shift hydrogen production process, the process flow is short, and the process water consumption, process energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions can be significantly reduced. Therefore, the clean and efficient development of coal becomes possible.
In March 2016, the “Science” magazine published the results of this research, and published an expert review article on the subject of “Amazing Selectivity” with the journal, and believed that the process will be extremely competitive in the industry in the future. .
At present, the team of Baoxinhe academicians has successfully expanded the OXZEO® catalyst design ideas, initially created a new technology platform for the direct conversion of coal through synthesis gas, realized the directional synthesis of a series of high-value chemicals and fuels, and led the development of water-saving, energy-saving and high-efficiency coal chemical industry New Direction.
Photo by Academician Bao Xinhe Xie Zhenlin
“As long as science is in the right direction, we are not afraid of being far away”
The mystery in the last was revealed, and behind it was the hard work of Academician Bao Xinhe and his team for more than 20 years.
In the 1990s, he learned that the Chinese Academy of Sciences hopes to introduce a group of high-level international talents, Baoxin in Germany and abandoning the superior scientific research environment and treatment abroad, and he resolutely came to Dalian Institute of Chemical Technology. Research will be aimed at key issues in catalysis, “decrypting the black box of catalysis”.
Due to the high difficulty of cracking the “black box”, international research on this area once fell into a downturn. However, Bao Xinhe has always believed in the research direction that he has chosen. “The team has persisted on the research path of nanocatalysis for more than 20 years. But. The team always believes that as long as scientific research is in the right direction, it is not afraid of a long journey.”
The breakthrough is somewhat accidental. In 2006, during the process of filling iron oxide nanoparticles into carbon nanotubes, the research team found that some experimental data exceeded the prediction. This phenomenon immediately attracted the attention of Bao Xinhe, and then a large number of focused on the target. After researching and experimenting, after breaking through the bottleneck, it finally happened.
An experimental phenomenon is fleeting, but Bao Xinhe can keenly grasp one or a few fleeting momentary reactions, and through a large number of experimental verifications, explore its scientific essence. This is largely due to the keen intuition and long-term accumulation of scientists.
In addition to leading the scientific research team, Bao Xinhe served as the director of the Dalian Institute of Can’t leave the front line, can’t leave the laboratory, can’t leave the students.” Bao Xinhe said.
An important original achievement must be derived from extensive knowledge, clever associations, cooperative minds, persistence and perseverance.
Despite the difficulties along the way, Bao Xinhe’s research team has always maintained a harmonious and united style of study, and fostered cooperation with each other with a sincere enthusiasm for science.
“The concept of nano-restricted catalysis and its industrial application development requires the unity and cooperation of multiple research teams and hundreds of researchers. Any shortcoming or slack in any link will not be able to achieve today’s results.” Bao Xinhe said.
In this team, it has become the norm to regularly organize work seminars for the backbone of scientific research.
Deng Dehui, a researcher at the Dalian Institute of Physics, is a “frequent visitor” of these seminars. “We have gone through many difficult stages. Relatively speaking, there are not so many articles published, but everyone’s enthusiasm has never diminished. Real scientific research requires patience. And persevering, the whole team is very confident and persevering.” Deng Dehui said.
In order to cultivate first-class talents, Bao Xinhe has created many good conditions for the development of young mentors, such as projects, funds, equipment and students. Bao Xinhe also regularly convenes team members to discuss each person’s development plan. This has also created an atmosphere of harmony and unity in the team, and cultivated a group of “technical houses” with no distractions.
Over the past 20 years, the laboratory has cultivated 125 doctoral students, 14 master students, and more than 40 post-doctoral students. Many of them have grown into outstanding talents in the field of catalysis, and have exerted an important influence in the academic and industrial circles.
“Theory guides practice. In the future, based on the concept of nano-restricted catalysis, more technologies will be used in industrial applications, which will improve the efficiency of resource utilization in my country and the world.” Bao Xinhe said.