Academic profile: Dr Da-Wei Wang
Dr Da-Wei Wang and his students at UNSW Chemical Engineering are working with Baosteel, the largest steel maker in China, to develop high-energy batteries. Dr Wang was also recently awarded an ARC Discovery Project grant to further develop a new breed of economical, high energy batteries.
Since completing his PhD at the Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dr Wang spent five years at the University of Queensland, where, under the mentorship of Prof Max Lu and then Prof Ian Gentle, he studied the surface electrochemistry of carbon materials with a focus on the oxygen functional groups and the development of Co-based materials for water splitting. In 2013 he received the Scopus Young Researcher Awards in Engineering and Technology.
In 2014 he joined UNSW as a Lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering, where he conducts research on the synthesis and electrochemistry of electrode materials (carbons, metal compounds and polymers) and advanced energy storage/conversion nanotechnology.
One of his current interests lies in the development of high-energy battery technologies with a long-life for electric vehicles (EVs). With durable high-energy batteries, Dr Wang believes it is possible to make EVs run for 200-300 km after each charge, and for 200k-300k km before battery replacement, meaning there is no need to change battery within the life of the car.
Dr Wang was recently awarded an ARC Discovery Project grant to develop an important new family of economical, high energy, multivalent batteries based on an abundant element, sulphur. A new battery separator will be designed to enable long-term stability in sulphur-based rechargeable batteries.
This project will help to promote the vehicle electrification, to alleviate air pollution and CO2 emission, and hence to improve the quality of life of Australians. This project will provide excellent training opportunities for young students, and to strengthen the future competitiveness of Australia in energy technology and membrane engineering.
Looking ahead, Dr Wang and his group are investigating the potential of 2D materials in batteries, sensors, and catalysis. These materials are similar to A4 paper, but with a 1/50000 thickness. They are thin enough to achieve unique nanoscale phenomena, but wide enough to be manipulated microscopically.