Personal profile

Roles & Responsibilities

  • Assistant Professor in Energy Technology



Dr Jin Xuan obtained his PhD from University of Hong Kong in 2012 centred on microfluidic fuel cell. Thereafter, he became a researcher in ECUST, China, where he led a Micro Energy System team. He then joined Heriot-Watt in September 2014 as an assistant professor, leading an independent research team with 1 research associate, 1 visiting postdoc and 5 PhD students. He has published 1 edited book, 60+ journal papers (including 4 Invited Articles, 2 ‘ESI 1% Highly Cited Papers’, 1 ‘Top 25 Hottest Article’ and 1 ‘Most Cited Article‘), 50+ conference papers, filed 10+ US, international and Chinese patents, and delivered 6 invited speeches in leading conferences. He is currently a member of EPSRC Peer Review College and Panel Member for the British Council’s Newton Fund Scheme. He has been the Evaluator of 50+ research proposals for funding agencies in UK, U.S.A., Qatar, Philippines and China. He served as Organizing Committee Member for conferences such as CRITICAT Photocatalysis Advanced Workshop (2016, Edinburgh), Fluid & Aerodynamics Summit (2016, London), and Energy Materials & Nanotechnology Meeting (2016, Dubai). He is an Associate Editor of Frontiers in Environmental Science, Guest Editor of Micro and Nanosystems, and an active Reviewer for 20+ leading journals such as Journal of Power Sources and Chemical Engineering Journal.

His research is widely funded by EPSRC, EU H2020, SFC, industrial sponsors, etc, with total £3M+ grants as PI and CoI. This includes a recent £1.8M EPSRC low carbon fuel project (EP/N009924/1), where he is a Co-I and work package leader for CO2 electro-reduction. He leads the HWU team in the EU H2020 project (RDC2MT) for fuel cell technology. He is also the PI of a Global Innovation Initiative (GII) project for CO2-to-fuel microreactors with Yale University, Shell, and Chinese Academy of Sciences, the PI of Scotland-Hong Kong Strategic Research Collaboration Program and the PI of an Energy Technology Partnership Grant.


Research interests

My research interests include microfluidics, microreactor and micro-systems for energy and carbon conversion via novel chemical, electrochemical and photocatalysis reactions. We leverage the unique fluid and transport phenomena at microscale to realise new functions that would hardly be obtained in a conventional reaction or process system.


(1) Fuel cells

For emerging energy technologies such as fuel cells, the performance of electrocatalytic materials mainly depends on two factors: molecular/chemical structure determining its intrinsic properties and bulk/system design posing external restricts. While quantum/molecular theories and continuous transport theories have been well developed at micro- and macro-scales to address the two issues, respectively, the in-between “meso-scale” at typical characteristic length of hundred nanometers to ten microns still remains undiscovered. Almost every outstanding key challenge for fuel cells is essentially related to phenomena at mesoscale, including water management, degradation mechanism and effective catalyst utilization, etc. The project will contribute to this global effort in unraveling the mysteries at the mesoscale with its unique background in fuel cell materials applications, and contributing to (1) new knowledge on inter-scale structure-performance relationship of PEM fuel cell material, and (2) new materials solving the ‘cost performance durability’ trilemma.


We have close relationship with the major fuel cell stakeholders worldwide to develop real-life application of fuel cells.


(2) Electrochemical system for energy and carbon conversion

Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas responsible for the global climate change all over the world. How to reduce CO2 emission is a main agenda in many countries. Electrochemical conversion of CO2 to useful fuels can simultaneously results in CO2 reduction and renewable fuel generation. So far, large-scale implementation of this technology still faces challenges because of its high cost and low efficiency mainly associated with deficiencies at material, reactor, process and system levels. The project aims to significantly improve the energy efficiency, enhance the performance and reduce the cost of the CO2-to-fuel conversion process to enable this technology to become commercially viable. A multidisciplinary multi-scale investigation on electrochemical method for CO2-to-Fuel conversion is being carried out in our research group. 


(3) Microreactor technology for Emission-To-Liquid (ETL) conversion

We conduct innovative research at both catalyst and reactor levels to increase the efficiency and manage the heat transfer of carbon dioxide hydrogenation reaction to produce methanol to enable emission-to-liquid (ETL) conversion. When combined with hydrogen generation with renewable or low carbon energy sources, this reaction will become a practical carbon recycle process that can sustainably extend the life span of fossil fuels. One major concern with the reaction is its conversion rate and product selectivity. We will design and build microreactors to manage heat transfer and increase reaction efficiency. The main goal of the research is to combine innovations of materials synthesis and reactor engineering to realize high-performance catalysis and reaction heat control at nano, micro and macro scales for the ETL conversion, and ultimately render prototype catalytic reaction systems that can be integrated with renewable energy sources to convert emitted carbon back into fuels.



The aim of this project is to initiate a collaborative research platform named Mesoscience-Enabled Synthesis and Optimization of ENERGY materials (MESO-ENERGY) for long-term continuous development of advanced functional materials in energy applications. The research philosophy will highly involve mesoscience principles for gaining knowledge to explain unique mesoscale phenomena in between the quantum and continuity worlds. The new insights will enable continual improvement in functionality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of new energy materials.

This project will boost long-term collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and City University of Hong Kong. The collective synergistic strengths in multiphysical computation and nanomaterial synthesis/characterization/functionalism yields high success rate.


Research Group Contact Details

Please visit our group website to find out our latest research updates



Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

Microfluidics Engineering & Materials Science
fuel cell Earth & Environmental Sciences
Fuel cells Engineering & Materials Science
Regenerative fuel cells Engineering & Materials Science
electrolyte Earth & Environmental Sciences
Electrolytes Engineering & Materials Science
Electrodes Engineering & Materials Science
Aluminum Engineering & Materials Science

Co Author Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2009 2018

A counter-flow-based dual-electrolyte protocol for multiple electrochemical applications

Lu, X., Wang, Y., Leung, D. Y. C., Xuan, J. & Wang, H. 28 Feb 2018 In : Applied Energy. 217, p. 241-248 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Methacholine Compounds
Biogenic Amines

An investigation of efficient microstructured reactor with monolith Co/anodic γ-Al2O3/Al catalyst in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis

Zhang, L., Chu, H., Qu, H., Zhang, Q., Xu, H., Cao, J., Tang, Z. & Xuan, J. 17 Jan 2018 In : International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

First-principles investigation of aluminum intercalation and diffusion in TiO2 materials: Anatase versus rutile

Tang, W., Xuan, J., Wang, H., Zhao, S. & Liu, H. 23 Mar 2018 In : Journal of Power Sources. 384, p. 249-255 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Titanium dioxide

Numerical investigation and optimization of vapor-feed microfluidic fuel cells with high fuel utilization

Wang, Y., Leung, D. Y. C., Zhang, H., Xuan, J. & Wang, H. 20 Jan 2018 In : Electrochimica Acta. 261, p. 127–136 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Fuel cells
Flow rate

Solar carbon fuel via photoelectrochemistry

Kalamaras, E., Maroto-Valer, M. M., Shao, M., Xuan, J. & Wang, H. 10 Mar 2018 In : Catalysis Today.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access


ENVR Certificate of Merit Award, Envir. Chem. Division

Jin Xuan (Recipient), 2013

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Excellence in Young Scientist Award

Jin Xuan (Recipient), 2011

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Outstanding Research Postgraduate Award, Mechanical Engineering Department

Jin Xuan (Recipient), 2011

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Scottish Energy News Researcher of the Year Award

Jin Xuan (Recipient), 15 Oct 2015

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Shanghai Pujiang Talent Award

Jin Xuan (Recipient), 2012

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Activities 2011 2015

  • 10 Invited talk
  • 2 Participation in conference
  • 2 Editorial activity
  • 1 Other

Low carbon energy technologies

Xuan, J. (Speaker)
10 Jan 2015

Activity: Invited talk

Carbon capture, storage and utilization

Xuan, J. (Speaker)
12 Jan 2015

Activity: Invited talk

Visiting Professor

Xuan, J. (Member)
15 May 20151 Sep 2015

Activity: Other

Energy Materials & Nanotechnology (EMN) Meeting on Membranes 2016

Xuan, J. (Organiser)
10 Nov 201510 Apr 2016

Activity: Participation in conference

Frontiers in Environmental Science (Journal)

Xuan, J. (Editor)
2014 → …

Activity: Editorial activity