In Focus - Issue 29 (Spring 2018)

Achievements have included successfully revealing the underlying mechanism of coupled heat/mass transfer and electrochemical kinetics in direct alcohol fuel cells, establishing a new theoretical framework which has subsequently enabled much higher performances for both direct methanol and direct ethanol fuel cells. Prof Zhao and his research team have achieved methanol fuel cell performance with a power density of mW/cm , which is four times higher than the previous record; set a world record of mW/cm for direct ethanol fuel cells; and created a laboratory fuel cell prototype that could power a model car for hours on ve cubic centimeters of fuel. The signi cant impact of such cross- eld insights has been widely recognized. Prof Zhao has been selected as a Highly Cited Researcher for four consecutive years from ( rst three years run by Thomson Reuters and last year by Clarivate Analytics) and received a State Natural Science Award, one of China’s highest scienti c recognitions, for two consecutive years. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. His endeavors have also been supported by a Croucher Senior Research Fellowship, a prestigious Hong Kong accolade awarded to eminent academics to support a year’s full-time research. Inspirational force In addition, his passion for his eld has steered him to winning ways as an educator, as reflected in the many teaching honors that adorn his o ce wall. To inspire interest in thermodynamics among students, he uses his own research and examples from real life, such as boiling water, to introduce the concepts behind a particular phenomenon. He himself was introduced to the idea of energy conversion at school and immediately felt an a nity for the subject. At Tianjin University, he studied thermophysics engineering at bachelor and master’s levels. Later, to further his keen interest in heat transfer, he applied to take his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where one of the key people in the eld was located. It proved to be a wonderful place to study amid spectacular surroundings, even though he spent most of his time in the lab and only occasionally went to beach. 08 IN FOCUS Cover Story Makes renewables accessible wherever and whenever needed, through creation of e-fuel power pack ( kW), e-fuel, and e-fuel charger ( kW) + o -grid e-fuel-powered demo lab at HKUST Innovative e-fuel storage system Solution Major problem for widespread adoption of renewables (solar/wind currently less than %) Storage required to solve intermittency problem, but existing technologies ine ective Challenge Boosts energy security, mitigates climate change, enhances urban health Sustainable energy Impact Alternative power pioneer Managing ows of electrons, ions, mass and heat as thermo- uid science meets electrochemistry, enabling theoretical and application breakthroughs. Intermittency