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A report from the DENSsolutions workshop held at SynCat@Beijing

There is no doubt that catalysis is one of the most important disciplines for synthesis of fuels and chemicals in the petrochemical industry. SynCat@Beijing, serving not only as an international research institute, but also as expertise center for advanced courses in science, has always been open for academic communication. On 9th March, 2017, it was a great honour to host the SynCat@Beijing – DENSsolutions workshop, held at SynCat@Beijing of Synfuels China. This workshop mainly consisted of lectures presented by famous professors, a short demonstration of the Climate System and its newest research, and discussions on scientific topics that everyone concerns. Over 70 either internal or external participants attended this workshop.


The Einstein Room of SynCat@Beijing was packed with more than 70 participants during this workshop

The workshop was hosted by Dr. Jianli Geng, the chairman of DensAlta, it started at 9:00 in the morning with an introductory talk on the SynCat@Beijing organization and its brief history from Prof. Hans Niemantsverdriet, the director of SynCat. He pointed out that electron microscopy instruments such as TEM can become revolutionarily crucial in catalyst characterization, that is why the workshop today is meaningful to this industry.



Prof. Hans Niemantsverdriet, the director of SynCat, gave an introductory talk on the SynCat@Beijing organization and its brief history. 


Then Prof. Yongwang Li gave a speech to welcome the guests and introduce the establishment and development of Synfuels China; Prof. Li also shared his ideas about science, stating that:


“There’s no pure science, science is to solve problems.”



Prof. Yongwang Li gave a speech to welcome the guests and introduce the establishment and development of Synfuels China


He thinks that the importance of science is trying to make fundamental understanding as much as possible, and then integrate these concepts to identify and solve the problems in real world. He has great expectations on the cooperation with DENSsolutions and wished this workshop success.



Left: Mr. Ben Bormans from DENSsolutions shared a brief talk on DENSsolutions Company; Right: Prof. Hans, Prof. Li and Mr. Bormans having a pleasant conversation

Afterwards, Mr. Ben Bormans, the founder and CEO of DENSsolutions Company, shared a brief talk on how he founded his company and spent over three decade to make improvements on electron microscopy, which allows microscopists to characterize atomic structures under high vacuum as well as gaseous atmosphere. He looked forward to the future collaboration with SynCat, as scientists and engineers together push technology forward.

After a short tour of the SynCat research labs for guests, the academic lectures began. Dr. Ding Ma from Peking University gave a lecture on “Selectivity Regulation in Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis”. He presented several studies on variety of metal catalysts, including both Mo2C and Fe5C2. His study indicated that zinc and sodium have promoter effect on iron-based catalysts, which increases the selectivity of olefins in FTS. In addition, he presented his current research on syngas to olefins over Fe5C2 under photo-input.



Impressions from the Lab tour for the guests: Dr. Jianli Geng, the chairman of DensAlta, introducing the Climate System for TEM (left), Dr. Gilbère Mannie from SynCat introducing NAP-SPM and NAP-XPS machine (middle), Dr. Yi Wang introducing poster of SynCat (right)


Dr. Ding Ma from Peking University gave a lecture on “Selectivity Regulation in Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis”

The following lecture was presented by Dr. Qiang Xu from Delft University of Technology, who is also the director of Applications for DENSsolutions. He gave a short lecture on "Real Time Imaging Catalysts at Working State". He presented a brief introduction on development of DENSslutions and a thorough explanation on advantages of the Climate System they have developed. He noted that the climate change was a global challenge of energy and environment, while the critical topic of producing clean energy was the catalysts; currently, all scientists in this field were craving for a revolutionary method on studying catalysts. The idea here is to scale down a “chemical plant” into a TEM machine. Certain technologies they developed to put a nano reactor between two silicon chips, so the gases could react inside, which makes the climate system have significant meaning to the researches because it not only allows scientists to observe the real time imaging of catalysts in working state but also protect the vacuum environment in TEM.



Dr. Qiang Xu from Delft University of Technology, who is also the director of Applications for DENSsolutions, gave a short lecture on “Real Time Imaging Catalysts at Working State”


Subsequently, Dr. Weizhen Li from Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics gave a lecture on "Synthesis of anti-sintering supported gold nano catalysts and an in-situ study on mechanism of stability", and at the end of this morning, Dr. Xi Liu from SynCat presented his lecture on "Carburization of nano iron particle studied by Environmental TEM".



Left: Dr. Weizhen Li from Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics gave a lecture on "Synthesis of anti-sintering supported gold nano catalysts and an in-situ study on mechanism of stability"; Right: Dr. Xi Liu from SynCat@Beijing presented his lecture on "Carburization of nano iron particle studied by Environmental TEM"

Afternoon demonstrations on in-situ TEM characterization of structural evolution of industrial copper catalysts under chemical environment started right after lunch break. All participants were astonished by the real time processes on repeated oxidation and reduction of Cu nanoparticles at high temperature and under 1 bar atmosphere of mixed O2 and H2.


Finally, all attendees were having a free discussion on experience of funding applications and several topics they came up with, including:
• Acquisition of the big data and how it has influence on research area
• Whether in-situ electron microscope could trace the atoms
• How to identify interfacial structure of metallic nanoparticles supported on oxides
• How to minimize influence of electron beam/quantify the influence of beam irradiation

The workshop was a great success. All participants were satisfied with lectures, demonstrations and discussions. As one of the attendees concluded: “It is the best of time we live in, newest technologies enable scientists to observe the processes, providing infinite opportunities, which would be impossible to achieve one decade ago.”

By Ruihua Li, Dr. Xi Liu,

Photography: Dr. Ajin Cheruvathur, Ruihua Li


Published on: April 18, 2017
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