In 2020, focusing on the major needs of the country and chemical industry, taking ionic liquids (ILs) as the key solvents/media, the ILC Group has made important progresses in the fundamental and applications of ILs and green process engineering.
In the scientific nature and fundamental studies of ILs. the Z-bonds was found to be existed between anion-pairs, thus the previous Z-bond theory was expanded. Combined with advanced experimental techinques, the characteristics of the quasi-liquid checkerboard structures resulted from Z bond was revealed, and the rules to control the structures of quasi-liquids on a variety of solid surfaces were obtained. The Z-bond theory was applied to investigate the mechanism for CO2 carbonylation, including the effects of ionic clusters and ILs microhabitat on the reaction process. The quasi-liquid enhanced interfacial transfer and reaction processes, and single atom catalysis with ILs were systematically investigated, which significantly improved the electrochemical reduction performance of CO2. The related research work was published in SCI journals, such as Nature Commun., J. Mater. Chem. A and ChemSusChem.
For industrial applications of ILs, a pilot plant for separation and recovery of NH3 from NH3 melamine tail with capacity 400,000 Nm3/y was developed by using ILs as absorbents, which solved the bottleneck of reaction-crystallization between NH3 and CO2 at the low/medium temperature. This new technology is regarded as a large innovation all over the world with independent intellectual property rights by the scientific and technological assessment committee organized by China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation. 100,000 t/y DMC/EG industrial plant via EC from CO2 and EO has been constructed completely and started to test the whole process at the end of 2020. The main equipments of MMA (methyl methacrylate) demonstration plant with a capacity of 10,000 ton/y was completed by using coal-based acetic acid as raw material, which provides an unique and important way for the high value, differentiated and green utilization of coal in China. The high-energy kerosene with small C-rings has been developed successfully with the specific impulse ~ 8s higher than that of the commercial ones.
The group has been continously promoting academic cooperation and exchanges. In 2020, several conferences or forums were organized, such as the 5th National Conference on Ionic Liquids and Green Processes, the 112th CAS Academician Department Forum on Science and Engineering Frontier of Ionic Liquids and the 693rd Xiangshan Scientific Conference: Ionic Liquids Function Regulation and Cross Fusion Frontier Technology, which further enhanced the influence of China in the ILs and green engineering field. Based on the platform of CAS-TWAS Center of Excellence for Green Technology (CEGT) and the International Green Technology Association (IGTA), a number of international students and researchers was trained, and the transformation of green technologies to developing countries was also promoted by orgnizing the 2020 International Green Technology Training Courses and the Green Upgrading Meeting of Chemical Products for Anti-epidemic and Sterilization: Opportunities and Challenges. The above work promoted the construction and development of the green technology association, playing a positive role in the growth of young scientific and technological talents in "the Belt and Road" countries.
Fig. 1 100,000 t/a DMC/EG Industrial Plant (CAPCHEM)
Fig. 2 10,000-ton Coal-Based MMA Demonstration Plant (Under Construction)
Fig. 3 The 5th National Conference on Ionic Liquids and Green Processes