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Yushan Yan - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Yushan Yan

Henry Belin Du Pont Chair of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering | University of Delaware


Prof. Yan is an expert in electrochemical engineering for sustainability.







Reinventing the fuel cell: Dr. Yushan Yan at TEDxUD A Plan for the Planet: Yushan Yan Center for Clean Hydrogen University of Delaware




Yushan Yan is the Henry Belin du Pont Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. He served as the founding Associate Dean for Research and Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware, Department Chair at the University of California Riverside and Senior Staff Engineer/Project Leader at AlliedSignal.

His recognitions include University Scholar Professor from the University of California Riverside, Presidential Chair from the University of California, Distinguished Engineering Professor from the University of Delaware, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Donald Breck Award from the International Zeolite Association, the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Energy Technology Division Research Award from the Electrochemical Society, Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the Braskem Award for Materials Science and Engineering from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and Fellow of the Electrochemical Society. He was one of 37 awardees of the US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E OPEN 2009, one of 66 awardees of the ARPA-E OPEN 2012, and one of 40 ARPA-E OPEN 2018. He has been an inventor on a number of issued or pending patents, some of which were licensed to form startup companies (e.g., NanoH2O).

He is currently the founder and CEO of a University of Delaware spinout W7energy His research has led to 250+ publications that are widely cited (19,000+ citations; h-index = 75, Web of Science; h-index = 82, Google Scholar), and extensively covered by the media including New Scientist, Business Week, C&EN News, Materials Today, MRS360, Chemical Engineering Progress, China Press, Chinese Daily News, CNBC, CNN.com, KABC, Radio Australia, and VOA. He studied Chemical Physics (BS) at the University of Science and Technology of China, Heterogeneous Catalysis at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Chemical Engineering (PhD) at the California Institute of Technology.

Industry Expertise (3)

Electrical Engineering



Areas of Expertise (10)

Electrochemical Energy Engineering

Energy Conversion and Storage

Fuel Cells


Flow Batteries



Polymer Electrolytes

Electrochemical Interfaces

Zeolites and Covalent Organic Frameworks

Media Appearances (5)

Plan for the planet: Yushan Yan | UDaily

University of Delaware  online


Today, Yushan Yan answers a question posed by Bradie Crandall, doctoral candidate in chemical and biomolecular engineering and a Delaware Environmental Institute Fellow, about the critical role hydrogen — the most abundant element on the planet — can play in the future of energy.

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Yushan Yan elected to National Academy of Engineering

EurekAlert!  online


“This is an incredible honor,” Yan said. “First and foremost, I want to thank my students and postdocs of the past 20-plus years who trusted me enough to join my group and taught me everything I know about electrochemical engineering, catalysis and materials. I am also grateful to my wife of 30 years for her unconditional support, my collaborators for sharing their knowledge and the various organizations for the funding they provided. I am humbled by this NAE election and I am indebted to many friends who have had more confidence in me than myself.”

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Next generation water splitter could help renewables power the globe

Science  online


Their work and another team's new device, described this week in Nature Energy, could bolster the global embrace of renewable energy if the new electrolyzers prove to be cheap and stable during many years of operation. "We are on the cusp of getting that done," says Yushan Yan, a chemical engineer at the University of Delaware, Newark, who is working on similar technology. A handful of small companies, including one he founded, have formed to commercialize it.

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These are Delaware’s most promising young tech companies: RealLIST Startups 2020

Technical.ly  online


2019 was a big year for W7Energy, a science startup founded by the University of Delaware professor Yushan Yan. With a product called PiperION that aims to make zero-emission fuel cell vehicles a reality, everyone from DuPont to the State of Delaware to the U.S. Department of Energy has gotten on board with it. It was one of the first “Fast Pass” recipients at the Delaware Innovation Space, a STEM class EDGE Grant winner, and was awarded $3.4 million from the DoE. That’s just the beginning. Right now, we’re voting W7Energy most likely to be a major player in innovating global transportation technology, and that’s about as real as it gets.

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Delaware assembles high-tech economy, one startup at a time

Delaware Business Times  online


Delaware’s aspirations for its high-tech economy are crystallized in people like Yushan Yan. He’s an entrepreneur and University of Delaware professor who is trying to solve a problem with hydrogen fuel cells. Yan and his seven-member team aren’t tweaking the effectiveness of the cells. They’re tackling something far more important: their price. The current generation of cells is too expensive to compete with gasoline engines. Yan’s company, W7 Energy, is working on a new way to make these cells that could make them economically competitive.

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Articles (5)

Understanding hydrogen electrocatalysis by probing the hydrogen-bond network of water at the electrified Pt–solution interface

Nature Energy

2023 Rational construction of the electrode–solution interface where electrochemical processes occur is of paramount importance in electrochemistry. Efforts to gain better control and understanding of the interface have been hindered by lack of probing methods. Here we show that the hydrogen evolution and oxidation reactions (HER/HOR) catalysed by platinum in base can be promoted by introduction of N-methylimidazoles at the platinum–water interface. In situ spectroscopic characterization together with simulations indicate that the N-methylimidazoles facilitate diffusion of hydroxides across the interface by holding the second layer of water close to platinum surfaces, thereby promoting the HER/HOR.

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Enhancing Hydrogen Diffusion in Catalytic Removal of Nitrate Using a Flow Reactor

Topics in Catalysis

2023 The excessive application of nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides and sewage irrigation in agriculture has caused serious nitrate pollution in natural water systems. Selective catalytic reduction of nitrate (NO3−) with hydrogen (H2) to dinitrogen (N2) is a promising approach to address this public health risk, but the practical application of this denitrification technology is currently limited by the low NO3− removal rate and the high cost of palladium-based catalysts. In this work, we report an integrated thermo/electro-catalytic flow reactor for nitrate reduction. The innovative design of the solid–gas–liquid triple-phase interface enables high-throughput catalytic reduction of NO3− to N2.

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Self-Standing Covalent Organic Framework Membranes for H2/CO2 Separation

Advanced Functional Materials

2023 Covalent organic frameworks (COFs) are proposed as promising candidates for engineering advanced molecular sieving membranes due to their precise pore sizes, modifiable pore environment, and superior stability. However, COFs are insoluble in common solvents and do not melt at high temperatures, which presents a great challenge for the fabrication of COF-based membranes (COFMs). Herein, for the first time, a new synthetic strategy is reported to prepare continuous and intact self-standing COFMs, including 2D N-COF membrane and 3D COF-300 membrane. Both COFMs show excellent selectivity of H2/CO2 mixed gas (13.8 for N-COF membrane and 11 for COF-300 membrane), and especially ultrahigh H2 permeance (4319 GPU for N-COF membrane and 5160 GPU for COF-300 membrane), which is superior to those of COFMs reported so far.

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Designing oxygen-doped Fe-N-C oxygen reduction catalysts for proton- and anion-exchange-membrane fuel cells

Chem Catalysis

2022 Tailoring the local environment and electronic structure of the active center of M-N-C catalysts is a promising route to improve the performance of catalysts. Herein, we design and controllably synthesize an O-doped O-FeN4C-O catalyst and identify its local structure, which contains two kinds of oxygen doping, i.e., axial-oxygen doping and second-coordination-shell oxygen doping of FeN4 species. Density functional theory calculations reveal that the synergy of the two kinds of oxygen doping optimizes electronic structure and therefore boosts oxygen reaction reduction (ORR) performance. Consequently, the O-FeN4C-O exhibits excellent ORR activities in both acidic and alkaline conditions. Importantly, the O-FeN4C-O-based proton- and anion-exchange membrane fuel cells deliver ultra-high peak power densities of 0.88 and 1.24 W cm−2, which ranked among the top performers of non-precious-metal ORR catalysts-based fuel cells.

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Nickel–molybdenum–niobium metallic glass for efficient hydrogen oxidation in hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells

Nature Catalysis

2022 The cost of fuel cell systems can be largely reduced by developing hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells (HEMFCs) based on platinum group metal-free (PGM-free) catalysts. However, the sluggish hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) in alkaline electrolytes forces HEMFCs to use higher PGM loadings at the anode than proton exchange membrane fuel cells to sustain the desired power densities. Here we report nickel–molybdenum–niobium metallic glasses as PGM-free HOR catalysts. The optimal Ni52Mo13Nb35 metallic glass exhibits an intrinsic exchange current density of 0.35 mA cm−2, outperforming that of a Pt disk catalyst (0.30 mA cm−2). This catalyst also shows remarkable robustness in alkaline electrolyte with a wide stability window up to 0.8 V versus the reversible hydrogen electrode.

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Accomplishments (7)

Fellow of the Electrochemical Society


Braskem Award for Materials Science and Engineering, American Institute of Chemical Engineers


Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors


Energy Technology Division Research Award, The Electrochemical Society


Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers


Donald Breck Award, International Zeolite Association


Distinguished Engineering Professor, University of Delaware


Education (3)

California Institute of Technology.: PhD, Chemical Engineering 1996

Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences: MS, Heterogeneous Catalysis 1992

University of Science and Technology of China: BS, Chemical Physics 1988

Patents (1)

Poly (aryl piperidinium) polymers including those with stable cationic pendant groups for use as anion exchange membranes and ionomers



Poly (aryl piperidinium) polymers with pendant cationic groups are provided which have an alkaline-stable cation, piperidinium, introduced into a rigid aromatic polymer backbone free of ether bonds. Hydroxide exchange membranes or hydroxide exchange ionomers formed from these polymers exhibit superior chemical stability, hydroxide conductivity, decreased water uptake, good solubility in selected solvents, and improved mechanical properties in an ambient dry state as compared to conventional hydroxide exchange membranes or ionomers. Hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells comprising the poly (aryl piperidinium) polymers with pendant cationic groups exhibit enhanced performance and durability at relatively high temperatures.

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