Jingdong receives the YDUN grant. Photo: Anne Frejberg

DKK 6.5 million for efficient and sustainable catalysts

Thursday 09 Oct 14

Jingdong Zhang's research

Read more about Jingdong Zhang's research.
Fuel cells have great potential as a green energy technology. Associate Professor Jingdong Zhang from DTU Chemistry has just been awarded a generous DKK 6.5 million YDUN grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research, to develop sustainable catalysts to promote the use of fuel cells.

By Charlotte Malassé

Fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy via electrochemical catalytic processes and have great potential as a green energy technology. The main reason fuel cells are not being used on a large scale is the high cost of catalysts.

The most common fuel cell catalysts are expensive metals such as platinum. In the Chemical Production of 3D Graphene Biocatalysts for Enzymatic Biofuel Cells project, Jingdong Zhang and her research group at DTU Chemistry will replace expensive metals with renewable and sustainable alternative catalysts. The development of new catalysts with high activity and stability holds great potential, but also great challenges.

Graphene hybrids—ground-breaking materials
Researchers from DTU Chemistry will develop biocatalysts for biofuel cells, where both the catalysts and fuel, such as glucose, are sustainable. The biocatalysts will be based on the new material, graphene, combined with nature's own catalytic enzymes. Enzymes quickly denature outside their natural surroundings, but a new form of graphene—nanoporous graphene—is expected to improve enzyme stability.

Designing and synthesizing "graphene hybrids" as a platform for immobilized redox enzymes, and using them as electrode materials in new biofuel cells is quite new. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the University of Potsdam, Germany, and Danish Power Systems.

Nanotechnology pioneer
Since 2004, Jingdong Zhang has devoted herself to working with nanotechnology—particularly nanochemistry. This field has grown rapidly in recent years and is applied in areas such as energy, electronics, agriculture and the environment.

Jingdong Zhang has taught and done research in nanotechnology at DTU Chemistry since 2009. She is a pioneer in her field and a popular lecturer. She collaborates widely with researchers at universities in the UK, Germany, Spain and Australia, and several universities in China.

YDUN grants

The Danish Council for Independent Research has awarded 17 YDUN grants, totalling approx. DKK 110 million, to talented researchers in Denmark.

The grants have been awarded within the framework of the Danish Council for Independent Research’s E2013 and F2014 + YDUN call, with the aim of better utilizing talent in Danish research by promoting a more balanced gender composition in research environments in Denmark.

Project title: Chemical Production of 3D Graphene Biocatalysts for Enzymatic Biofuel Cells
Grant recipient: Jingdong Zhang
Institution: DTU, Technical University of Denmark
Grant amount: DKK 6,419,186