475627 Semi-Permeable Membrane Reactor for Catalysis, Hydrocarbon Processing and CO2 Reuse

Sunday, November 13, 2016
Continental 4 & 5 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Xiao-Yu Wu, Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

PhD expected in January 2017

PhD Dissertation: Syngas Production via Water and Carbon Dioxide Thermolysis on Mixed Ionic-Electronic Conductive Membranes.

Under supervision of Professor Ahmed F. Ghoniem, Ronald C. Crane (1972) Professor; Director, Center for Energy and Propulsion Research; Director, Reacting Gas Dynamics Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research Interests:

Inorganic membrane reactor finds numerous industrial and scientific applications such as hydrogen production, hydrocarbon processing, CO2 splitting and kinetic studies. By using a semi-permeable membrane, reactants can be doped or products can be separated. Therefore, the thermodynamic limit can be overcome and the selectivity can be enhanced. For example, a mixed ionic-electronic conductive membrane facilitates H2O/CO2 splitting at elevated temperatures and increases the selectivity to syngas in partial oxidation of methane. The implementation of such an oxygen permeable membrane also reveals the kinetics of partial oxidation of methane. Experimental and numerical studies are used to understand the reaction kinetics and limiting steps and to optimize the reactor design. Ab initio studies can reveal the fundamentals of charged species transport and transition states in reactions. These information can all lead to the optimization of reactor in industrial scale.

My ultimate goal for all my potential researches is to utilize the fundamental understanding in science to guide and optimize the operation in engineering. Therefore, in the future, I foresee myself collaborating closely with scientists and industrial partners to make the findings in my own laboratory into reality.

Teaching Interests:

Thermal science and energy related subjects such as heat transfer, fluid mechanics, transport phenomenon, thermodynamics, energy conversion

Chemistry and materials related subjects, such as electronic materials, inorganic materials, chemical kinetics


1. MIT Golden Beaver Award – Institute award for excellence in leadership (Board of MIT European Club), 2016

2. Best Presentation Award in the 2015 AIChE Annual Meeting, 2015

3. Audience Award in MIT Mechanical Engineering Research Exhibition Poster Session, 2015

4. MISTI-MITEI fellow for Internship in Germany, MIT, 2015

Research Experience:

I have been working on several fields on chemical engineering: heat/mass transfer, electrochemical reaction/diffusion, reactor analysis and chemical kinetics. My previous work in Zhejiang University was focused on experimental studies on different types of heat transfer enhancement techniques: fin tubes for falling film evaporation and nanofluids for supercritical heat transfer. Both projects were based on industry applications. Now I am working on an interdisciplinary research as my PhD thesis, which involves chemical kinetics (surface reaction) and electrochemical diffusion (ion transport membrane). Tools in various physical scales are used in my thesis: femto (Density Functional Theory), nano (Microscopy Characterization), macro (System Scale Thermodynamics). This means both experiments and simulations are used to understand the chemical process. Additionally, my work experience in Wolverine Tube, INC and Robert Bosch LLC granted me the insights in researches in industry, which will benefit my collaboration with industrial partners.

Teaching Experience:

At MIT, I took a graduate course “Instruction in Teaching Engineering “ and applied the knowledge on teaching when I TA’ed two courses at MIT: Fundamental of Advanced Energy Conversion (both undergrad and grad) and Introduction to Heat Transfer (undergrad). I got evaluation from students with 6.5/7 and 6.6/7 for these two course, respectively. Besides, I have mentored three undergraduates at MIT under my thesis work: one from MIT-Egypt Exchange Fellowship Program (3 months) and two from MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) (5 and 8 months).

Selected Publications:

1. X.Y. Wu, M. Uddi, A.F. Ghoniem, “Enhancing co-production of H2 and syngas via water splitting and POM on surface-modified oxygen permeable membranes”, invited to submit to AIChE Journal as “Best paper initiative”, 2016, under review

2. X.Y. Wu, L. Chang, M. Uddi, P. Kirchen, A.F. Ghoniem, “Toward enhanced hydrogen generation from water using oxygen permeating LCF membranes”, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 17 2015 10093-10107

3. D. Huang, X. Y. Wu, Z. Wu, W. Li, H. T. Zhu, B. Sunden, “Experimental Study on Heat Transfer of Nanofluids in a Vertical tube at Supercritical Pressures”, International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer, 63 2015 54-61

4. W. Li, X.Y. Wu, Z. Luo, R.L. Webb, “Falling Water Film Evaporation on Newly-Designed Enhanced Tube Bundles”, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 54 (13-14) 2011 2990-2997

5. W. Li, X.Y. Wu, Z. Luo, S.C. Yao, J.L. Xu, “Heat Transfer Characteristics of Falling Film Evaporation on Horizontal Tube Arrays”, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 54 (9-10) 2011 1986-1993

Personal website:


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