Dr. Shang Zhai is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (with joint appointment in the School of Earth Sciences) at Ohio State since 2022. He also holds a courtesy appointment with the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Dr. Zhai earned B.Eng. in Building Technology from Tsinghua University, China in 2014. He obtained his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (advisor: Pr. Arun Majumdar) and a Ph.D. Minor in Materials Science and Engineering (co-advisor: Pr. William Chueh) from Stanford University in 2020, partly supported by the Enlight Foundation Graduate Fellowship.
Dr. Zhai’s doctoral dissertation focused on materials and technoeconomics of thermochemical splitting of water and CO2. He developed strategies to tune phase transformation of ferrites and achieved at least 5 times the water/CO2 splitting capacity of state-of-the-art materials, challenging the conventional wisdom about ferrites. He also identified critical performance metrics for producing carbon-free hydrogen that would be cost-competitive in the market.
From 2020 to 2022, Dr. Zhai was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford working with Pr. Arun Majumdar, Pr. Matteo Cargnello, and Dr. Raghubir Gupta, and he aimed to address the carbon deposition problem commonly found in thermal catalysis, using methane pyrolysis for hydrogen as a testbed. He was also working on direct air capture of CO2.
Dr. Zhai is passionate about applying thermal sciences, materials chemistry, and reaction engineering to revolutionary energy technologies for a sustainable future. He is glad to have been the mentor of 10+ undergraduate and graduate students from diverse backgrounds.
One of the biggest challenges for the 21st century is to meet people’s growing need for affordable energy, while mitigating extreme weather and natural disasters by decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at Gigaton (Gt) scale. Thermochemical processes are the only type of Gt-scale technology well-controlled by human beings today. Our mission is to create and develop game-changing materials and systems for scalable and sustainable thermochemical energy cycles to help achieve net zero emissions economy.
Dr. Zhai’s group combines materials science, reaction engineering, and thermal sciences to solve the energy and climate challenges at both the material level and the system level. Examples of topics include but are not limited to thermochemical looping (e.g., for carbon-free hydrogen production, CO2 capture and conversion), coking-resistant catalyst, and industrial heat management.