Release Date: January 20, 2021
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Miao Yu, an internationally recognized expert on nanoporous materials and chemical separations, has joined the University at Buffalo RENEW Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Yu will serve as an Empire Innovation Professor in RENEW — an interdisciplinary institute dedicated to research and education on globally pressing problems in energy, environment and water — and in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE).
His appointment was announced by RENEW Director Amit Goyal and Kemper Lewis, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
“We are delighted that Miao Yu, an internationally recognized expert in nanoporous materials and chemical separations, has joined the UB RENEW Institute and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He will boost UB's position as a premier public research university and will significantly impact the RENEW Institute,” Lewis and Goyal said in a joint statement.
Yu’s work aligns with RENEW's Next-Generation Materials & Technologies for Energy, Environment, & Water Sustainability focus area.
Sustainable energy, environment, water and food, in a large extent, depends on the ability to acquire, capturing and utilize small molecules of water, ammonia, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, ethanol and liquid hydrocarbons. Precisely designing stable, molecular-scale pores for sieving these valuable molecules – either from the final product or during their production processes – could be an effective way of acquiring these molecules. Considering the very small sizes (less than a nanometer) of these molecules and tiny size difference from their contaminants and/or byproducts, it is a grand challenge to design these molecular-scale pores, especially using stable and desired materials.
One of the most important research directions of Yu's group is CO2 capture and utilization. He is leading or participating in three Department of Energy (DOE) projects on CO2 capture from both flue gas and air, and two DOE projects on CO2 conversion to liquid fuels.
Yu’s long-term goals are to commercialize technologies developed from his research to impact energy, environment, water and food through the design of novel and scalable functional nanoporous materials and structures. This work is guided by deep fundamental understanding of materials synthesis and growth mechanisms, and their structure and property relationship.
Prior to joining UB, he was an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 2017 until this January. He was an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of South Carolina (USC) from 2012-17. Before USC, he was an assistant research professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, from 2010-12.
Yu has published about 70 peer-reviewed papers, with two in Science and others in Nature Communications, Advanced Materials, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nano Letters, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, ACS Catalysis, Chemical Communications and others. He received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2015, and has secured roughly $20 million in research funds.
Yu has transferred four DOE research grants totaling over $2 million to UB. Earlier this month, the DOE awarded approximately $2 million from its new Advanced Manufacturing Office program to E2H2Nano (Yu's startup company) to explore ammonia synthesis. That includes a subcontract to UB of roughly $500,000.
Yu received a PhD in chemical engineering from University of Colorado, Boulder, in 2007, and an MS in chemical engineering Tianjin University, China, in 2002. He was as a postdoctoral researcher from 2007-10 at the University of Colorado, Boulder.