1. About Me

Xiangkun Elvis Cao is currently a Ph.D. student in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University, after building an aqueous particle sensor to monitor metal cleanliness for steelmaking industries at McGill and investigating a novel fuel cladding to enhance accident tolerance for nuclear plants at MIT.

His research at Cornell focuses on developing the HI-Light reactor for carbon conversion, and the FeverPhone device for fever diagnosis.

The HI-Light team (Cornell+Dimensional Energy) has won the $20K Grand Prize in Tech Briefs “Create the Future” Design Contest and has advanced to the semi-final round of the competition for the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE.

2. Abstract

HI-Light: A Solar Thermal Chemical Reactor for Carbon Conversion

Plants absorb carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight and convert them into food to grow through photosynthesis. Artificial photosynthesis is a similar process that converts CO2 into the same fuels and feedstocks that drive our economy. Herein we report the HI-Light technology – an artificial photosynthesis reactor and engineered catalyst platform designed for CO2 conversion into fuels.
As a solar-thermocatalytic “reverse combustion” technology, the HI-Light reactor combines advanced light delivery and nano catalysts for the photothermocatalytic reduction of carbon dioxide, through direct utilization of sunlight to provide the energy for the CO2 reduction process. The key advantage of our reactor is the panchromatic harvesting of the broad-band solar spectrum.
The main challenge with photocatalytic reactors to date is sub-optimal light delivery to reaction surfaces. The HI-Light reactor enables the simultaneous light and reactant delivery technique that maximizes utilization of catalyst in the reactor, through a novel design where the internal light-guiding rods with specially designed scattering surfaces enable deep and efficient penetration of the solar energy into the reactor, and the reagents and products flow through outside the rods.
The HI-Light reactor enables a great improvement in catalyst usage effectiveness, volumetric productivity, and reactor efficiency over the state-of-the-art, significantly increasing the commercial viability of the technology.

3. Video

4. Slides

5. Erickson Lab & Hanrath Lab

This project is a collaboration effort between the Erickson Lab and the Hanrath Lab at Cornell, as well as its commercial parner, Dimensional Energy.

The Erickson lab at Cornell is led by Prof. David Erickson, the Sibley College Professor at Cornell University (http://www.ericksonlab.org/). The Hanrath lab at Cornell is led by Prof. Tobias Hanrath (https://hanrath-group.cbe.cornell.edu/).