Zhongchao (Chao) Tan, PhD, PEng, FCSME, FCAE (He/Him)

Zhongchao (Chao) Tan, PhD, PEng, FCSME, FCAE
Location: ERC 2007
Phone: 519-888-4567 x38718
Status: Active


Dr. Tan is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering and Director of Research Lab for Green Energy & Pollution Control, at the University of Waterloo. He received his BSc and MSc degrees from Tsinghua University, Beijing in the 1990s, and PhD degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA in 2004. He was the founding Executive Director of Tsinghua-Waterloo Joint Research Centre for Energy and Environmental Technologies, and the Associate Dean (International) of Waterloo Engineering. In addition, Tan has provided dedicated services to several professional societies, including the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering, Canadian Society of Chemical Engineering, International Association for Green Energy, Standard Council Canada/ISO, and the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Tan’s contribution to scholarship has been recognized by international peers, as evidenced by the popularity of his technical books in his fields of research. In addition to 120 peer reviewed journal articles and 80+ conference presentations, his single-authored textbook, Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases, was downloaded 1.7+ million times globally, and another coauthored textbook was recognized as “the top-used publications on SpringerLink that concern one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals”. His impact on his peer groups and the wider society is also evidenced by numerous domestic and international awards, including Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering, Outstanding Performance Award (UWaterloo), Early Research Excellence Award (UCalgary), Editor’s Choice papers, Highly Cited Paper (top 1%) from Clarivate Analytics, and Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Tsinghua University. Tan's dedication to higher education also won him multiple teaching awards, including those from UIUC and UCalgary. He has mentored 100+ HQPs; many of them have taken leadership roles in their chosen fields, winning various awards including chair professorship, Best Journal Articles, Best Conference Papers, and Featured Articles.

Research Interests

  • Green energy, Bioenergy, Air pollution control, Carbon emission control, Nanofiber, Electrospinning, Hydrothermal conversion, Hydrogen production, Biomass and waste management, Nanoaerosol filtration, Nanoaerosol measurement, Post-combustion Air Cleaning, Acidic gas absorption
  • Academic Writing for Engineering Publications


  • 2004, Doctorate, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
  • 1999, Master of Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • 1996, Bachelor of Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China


  • Fellow, The Canadian Academy of Engineering (FCAE), elected in 2022.
  • Fellow, The Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineering (FCSME), elected in 2022.
  • Distinguished Visiting Professorship, honorary appointment, Tsinghua University, 2022-2024.
  • 2021 University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Award
  • 2009 Schulich School of Engineering Departmental Teaching Award, University of Calgary.
  • 2008 Schulich School of Engineering’s Early Research Excellence Award, University of Calgary.
  • 2006-2007 University of Calgary Student Union’s Teaching Excellence Award Honorable Mention.
  • 2004 Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent, UIUC.


  • 2021-2022: Senator
  • 2019-2021, Associate Dean International
  • 2017-2021 Executive Director, Tsinghua University-University of Waterloo Joint Research Centre for Micro/Nano Energy & Environmental Technologies

Professional Associations

  • 2021-Present: Board of Director, Nomination Committee Chair, Techncial Committee Chair, International Association for Green Energy
  • 2021-Present: Chair, ISO/TC 142; (2021-2022 as vice chair)
  • 2018-2021, Board of Directors, American Filtration & Separations Society
  • 2018-2019: Chair, Division of Energy, Canadian Society of Chemical Engineering; 2021-Present, Executive Committee member.

Volunteer Work

  • Expert reviewer for NSERC, CFI, Mitacs, etc.
  • Editorial Board Member or Associate Editor of International Journal of Green Energy, Sustainable Environment Research , Nanotechnology for Environmental Engineering, International Journal of Chemical Reactor Engineering, Frontiers of Thermal Engineering, etc.


  • CHE 572 - Air Pollution Control
    • Taught in 2019
  • CHE 672 - Air Pollution Control
    • Taught in 2019
  • ME 201 - Advanced Calculus
    • Taught in 2021
  • ME 456 - Heat Transfer 2
    • Taught in 2018
  • ME 571 - Air Pollution
    • Taught in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
  • ME 760 - Special Topics in Thermal Engineering
    • Taught in 2018, 2019, 2021

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Z Tan, June 14, 2022. Academic Writing for Engineering Publications – A Guide for Non-native English Speakers, 2022 edition, Springer Nature, New York, USA. ISBN-13: 978-3030993634; ISBN-10: 3030993639
  • Z Tan, 2014. Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases: from Basic Concepts to Engineering Applications for Air Emission Control, Springer Nature, Singapore, ISBN 978-981-287-211-1
  • Y Li, Z Wen, H Yu, Z Tan, 2023. Techno-economic analysis for hydrogen-burning power plant with onsite hydrogen production unit based on methane catalytic decomposition, Energy Conversion and Management : 116674.
  • L Hu, X Huang, Q Nie, T Wang, P Liu, J Liu, Z Tan, H Yu, 2023. Single Pd atoms supported on ultra-thin Bismuth Tungstate nanosheets with oxygen vacancy as an efficient photocatalyst, Journal of Materials Chemistry A: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2023/TA/D2TA07120G
  • S Souzanchi, L Nazari, KTV Rao, Z Yuan, Z Tan, C Xu, 2023. 5-HMF production from industrial grade sugar syrups derived from corn and wood using niobium phosphate catalyst in a biphasic continuous-flow tubular reactor, Catalysis Today 407: 274-280.
  • K Zhang, X Yang, H Cao, J Thé, Z Tan, H Yu, 2023. Multi-step forecast of PM2. 5 and PM10 concentrations using convolutional neural network integrated with spatial-temporal attention and residual learning, Environment International: 107691
  • L Hu, T Wang, Q Nie, J Liu, Y Cui, K Zhang, Z Tan, H Yu, 2022. Single Pd atoms anchored graphitic carbon nitride for highly selective and stable photocatalysis of nitric oxide, Carbon 200:187-198.
  • M Khodabakhshi, JZ Wen, Z Tan, 2022. Coefficient of restitution of sub-10 nm silver nanoparticles on an adhesive surface under repulsive and sticky conditions -- Silver nanoparticle collisions on an adhesive surface, The European Physical Journal D 76: 156.
  • Y Zhang, Y Huang, Y Li, H Yu, Z Tan, 2022. Free energy barrier in wetting parallel-structured surfaces, Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects 655, 130214
  • X Yang, K Zhang, C Ni, H Cao, J Thé, G Xie, Z Tan, H Yu, 2021. Ash determination of coal flotation concentrate by analyzing froth image using a novel hybrid model based on deep learning algorithms and attention mechanism, Energy 260: 125027.
  • Y Li, H Yu, N Zhou, Z Tan, 2022. Electrospun nanofibrous redox-active separator for enhancing the capacity of Lithium-ion batteries, Chemical Engineering Science 260: 117873.
  • Y Cui, X Huang, T Wang, L Jia, Q Nie, Z Tan, H Yu, 2021. Graphene quantum dots/carbon nitride heterojunction with enhanced visible-light driven photocatalysis of nitric oxide: An experimental and DFT Study, Carbon 191: 502-514.
  • Y Li, H Yu, Y Zhang, N Zhou, Z Tan, 2021. Kinetics and characterization of conductive nanofibrous membrane by in-situ polymerization of Polypyrrole on electrospun nanofibers, Chemical Engineering Journal, 433: 133531.
  • M Khodabakhshi, JZ Wen, Z Tan, 2021. Coefficient of restitution for silver nanoparticles colliding on a wet silver substrate, Applied Surface Science 554: 149607 .
  • Y Cui, T Wang, J Liu, L Hu, Q Nie, Z Tan, H Yu, 2021. Enhanced solar photocatalytic degradation of nitric oxide using graphene quantum dots/bismuth tungstate composite catalysts, Chemical Engineering Journal 420: 129595

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