Wenzhen Li

  • Associate Professor
  • Richard Seagrave Associate Professor

Main Office

2140 Biorenewables Research Laboratory
Ames, IA 50011-1098
Phone: 515-294-4582


  • Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, 2004
  • B.S. Chemical Engineering, Dalian University of Technology, 1998

Interest Areas

  • Electrocatalysis and photoelectrocatalysis
  • Electrochemical energy
  • Advanced electrocatalytic materials
  • Electrochemical synthesis and manufacturing
  • Biorenewables
Our interdisciplinary research is at the interface of science and engineering. We are exploring electrochemical processing of biorenewables, CO2, N2 for chemicals or fuels manufacturing. Our current research activities include development of advanced electrocatalysts, exploration of novel electrochemical processes and systems, storage of renewable electricity into hydrocarbon fuels from biomass feedstock, electroreduction of CO2 to fuels, ammonia electrosynthesis, electrocatalytic oxygen reduction and evolution, high-performance and low cost fuel cells and electrolyzers, novel concept flow batteries, and photoelectrolysis for water splitting.

 Teaching Spring Semester 2018

  • Ch E 410X, 510X, Electrochemical Engineering

Brief Biography

    High impact researcher in the areas of fuel cells, catalysis, renewable energy and electrochemistry recognized by Google Scholar citations.
    • 2016, Bailey Career Development Award, Iowa State University
    • July 2015, Outstanding Alumni Lecture, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP), Chinese Academy of Science (CAS)
    • 2015-2017, Hai-Tian (Sea-Sky) Scholar, Dalian University of Technology, China
    • 2010-2012, Petroleum Research Fund (PRF) Doctoral New Investigator (DNI) Award
    • 2009, University Key Lab Visiting Scholar, Ministry of Education, P.R. China
    • 2004, Packard Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    • 2003, President Excellent Award, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Selected Publications

  • Xiaotong H. Chadderdon, David J Chadderdon, John E Matthiesen, Yang Qiu, Jack M. Carraher, Jean-Philippe Tessonnier, and Wenzhen Li, "Mechanisms of Furfural Reduction on Metal Electrodes: Distinguishing Pathways for Selective Hydrogenation of Bioderived Oxygenates," Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2017,
  • Neeva Benipal, Ji Qi, Ryan F. McSweeney, Changhai Liang, Wenzhen Li, "Electrostatic oxidation of meso-erythritol in anion-exchange membrane alkaline fuel cell on PdAg/CNT catalyst," Journal of Power Sources, 2017,
  • Neeva Benipal, Ji Qi, Jacob C. Gentile, Wenzhen Li, "Direct Glycerol Fuel Cell with Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Thin Film Separator," Renewable Energy, 2017, 105, pp 647-655.
  • Yang Qiu, Le Xin, Fan Jia, Jian Xie, Wenzhen Li, “Three-Dimensional Phosphorus-droped Graphitic-C3N4 Self-assembly with NH2-functionalized Carbon Composite Materials for Enhanced Oxygen Reduction Reaction,” Langmuir, 2016, 32 (48), pp 12569- doi:10.102/acs.langmuir.6b02498.
  • Neeva Benipal, Ji Qi, Patrick A. Johnston, Jacob C. Gentile, Robert C. Brown, Wenzhen Li, Fuel, “Direct fast pyrolysis oil fuel cell,” Fuel, 2016, 85-93.
  • Le Xin, Fan Yang, Somaye Rasouli, Yang Qiu, Zhe-Fei Li, Aytekin Uzunoglu, Cheng-Jun Sun, Yuzi Liu, Paulo Ferreira, Wenzhen Li, Yang Ren, Lia A Stanciu, Jian Xie, “Understanding Pt nanoparticle anchoring on graphene supports through surface functionalization,” ACS Catalysis, 2016, 6, 2642-2653.
  • Ji Qi, Neeva Benipal, Changhai Liang, Wenzhen Li*, “PdAg/CNT Catalyzed Alcohol Oxidation Reaction for High-Performance Anion Exchange Membrane Direct Alcohol Fuel Cell (Alcohol = Methanol, Ethanol, Ethylene Glycol and Glycerol),” Applied Catalysis B Environmental, 2016,199, 494-503.
  • Yang Qiu, Jiajie Huo, Fan Jia, Brent. H. Shanks, Wenzhen Li, "N- and S- Doped Mesoporous Carbon as Metal-Free Cathode Catalysts for Direct Biorenewable Alcohol Fuel Cells," Journal of Materials Chemistry, A, 2015, DOI: 10.1039/C5TA06039G”
  • David J Chadderdon, Le Xin, Ji Qi, Brian Brady, Julie A Miller, Kai Sun, Michael J. Janik, Wenzhen Li, "Selective Oxidation of 1,2-propanediol in alkaline anion-exchange membrane electrocatalytic flow reactors: experimental and DFT investigations," ACS Catalysis, 2015, 5, 6926–6936.
  • Ji Qi, Neeva Benipal, Hui Wang, David J. Chadderdon, Yibo Jiang, Wei Wei, Yun Hang Hu*, Wenzhen Li*, "Metal-Catalyst-Free Carbohydrozide Fuel Cells with Three-Dimensional Graphene Anodes," ChemSusChem, 2015, 8, 1147-1150.
  • Yang Qiu, Le Xin, Wenzhen Li, "Electrocatalytic oxygen evolution over supported small amorphous Ni-Fe nanoparticles in alkaline electrolyte," Langmuir, 2014, 30, 7893-7901.
  • David Chadderdon, Le Xin, Ji Qi, Karren More, Wenzhen Li, "Electrocatalytic selective oxidation of 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furfural to 2,5-furandicarboxalic acid on supported Au-Pd alloyed nanoparticles," Green Chemistry, 2014, 16, 3778-3786.
  • Yang, Qiu, Le Xin, David Chadderdon, Ji Qi, Changhai Liang, Wenzhen Li, "Integrated electrocatalytic processing of levulinic acid and formic acid to biofuel intermediate valeric acid," Green Chemistry, 2014, 30, 7893-7901.
  • Zhiyong Zhang, Le Xin, David J. Chadderdon, Ji Qi, Kai Sun, Kayla M. Warsko, and Wenzhen Li*, "Selective electro-oxidation of glycerol to tartronate or mesoxalate on Au nanoparticle catalyst via electrode potential tuning," Applied Catalysis B Environmental, 2014, 147, 871-878.
  • Le Xin, Zhiyong Zhang, Ji Qi, David Chadderdon, Yang Qiu, Kayla Warsco, Wenzhen Li, "Electricity storage in biofuels: Electrocatalytic conversion of levulinic acid to valeric acid and γ-valerolacetone," ChemSusChem, 2013, 6, 674-686.
  • Ji Qi, Le Xin, Zhiyong Zhang, Kai Sun, Haiying He, Fang Wang, David Chadderdon, Yang Qiu, Changhai Liang, Wenzhen Li, "Surface dealloyed Pt nanoparticles supported on carbon nanotubes: facile synthesis and potential applications for direct crude glycerol anion-exchange membrane fuel cell," Green Chemistry, 2013, 15,1133-1137.
  • Le Xin, Zhiyong Zhang, Ji Qi, David Chadderdon, Wenzhen Li, "Electrocatalytic oxidation of ethylene glycol (EG) on supported Pt and Au catalysts: Reaction pathway investigation in three-electrode cell and fuel cell reactors," Applied Catalysis B Environmental, 2012, 125, 85-94.
  • Le Xin, Zhiyong Zhang, Zhichao Wang, Ji Qi, Wenzhen Li, "Simultaneous generation of mesoxalic acid and electricity from glycerol on Au anode catalyst in anion exchange membrane fuel cells," ChemCatChem, 2012, 4, 1105-1114.
  • Zhiyong Zhang, Le Xin, Wenzhen Li, "Electrocatalytic oxidation of glycerol on Pt/C in anion exchange membrane fuel cell: Cogeneration of electricity and valuable chemicals," Applied Catalysis B Environmental, 2012, 119, 40-48.
  • Zhiyong Zhang, Le Xin, Kai Sun, Wenzhen Li, "Pd-Ni electrocatalysts for efficient ethanol oxidation reaction in alkaline electrolyte," International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2011, 36, 12686-12697.
  • Zhiyong Zhang, Karren L. More, Kai Sun, Zili Wu, Wenzhen Li, "Preparation and characterization of PdFe nanoleaves as electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reaction," Chemistry of Materials, 2011, 23, 1570-1577.
  • Olumide Winjobi, Zhiyong Zhang, Changhai Liang, Wenzhen Li, "Carbon nanotube supported platinum-palladium nanoparticles for formic acid oxidation," Electrochimica Acta, 2010, 55, 4217-4221.