Wednesday, March 20, 2024 03:30PM
Xiao Su

Note: A reception will follow at 4:30 p.m. in the Ford ES&T (L1 atrium)


Xiao Su, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign


"Redox-mediated electrochemical separations: from fundamentals to applications"




Electric fields and electrochemical reactions have the potential to unlock new separation technologies. Electrochemical separations can promote sustainability through the integration of renewable energy, plug-and-play modularity, and elimination of secondary waste. While electrochemical separations have been extensively explored for water desalination, their translation to value-added chemical manufacturing or resource recovery has been hampered by the lack of molecular selectivity. Here, we will discuss molecular engineering approaches to impart specificity, and the importance of elucidating fundamental intermolecular interactions.


We focus on the development of redox-mediated electrochemical separations, where redox-electron transfer enables the tuning of interfacial selectivity, reversibility, and even synergistic coupling of reaction and separations. We highlight the versatility of these emerging electrochemical separation processes, and their applicability across chemical and biochemical manufacturing, environmental remediation and waste treatment, and critical materials recovery. Finally, we present new directions in engineering continuous redox-mediated multicomponent separations. We highlight the generalizability of the electrochemical design principles beyond adsorption-based approaches to redox-mediated electrodialysis and electrochemical liquid-liquid extraction, and the translation of these systems to industrially-relevant contexts.




Xiao Su is an Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He obtained his Bachelor in Applied Sciences in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 2011. He completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 2017, working under the supervision of Professor T. Alan Hatton from Chemical Engineering and Professor Timothy F. Jamison from Chemistry.


Since joining Illinois in 2019, his research seeks to develop new electrochemically-mediated separations through a combination of molecular design and electrochemical engineering. His team has tackled global emerging challenges such as critical element recovery and materials recycling for sustainable mining, environmental remediation and water treatment, as well as green chemical and biochemical manufacturing. A unique focus has been on understanding and leveraging redox-electron transfer at interfaces to achieve selective ion separations and transformations, as well as combining reaction and separations electrochemically for process intensification.


Xiao has been the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award (2019), the ACS Victor K. Lamer Award (2020), the ISE-Elsevier Prize for Green Electrochemistry (2021), the ACS Unilever Award (2023), the AIChE FRI/Kunesh Awards in Separations (2023), and the ACS Satinder Ahuja Young Investigator Award in Separation Science (2024). Xiao has also been recognized by the List of Excellent Teachers (2019, 2022), and the School of Chemical Sciences Teaching Award (SCS) in 2023.


About the Suzanne C. and Duncan A. Mellichamp Distinguished Lecture Series