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Author ORCID ID is 0000000210940325
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  1. Carbon supports are vital for a wide range of electrochemical reactions, yet the production of useful carbon supports largely relies on costly precursors and fabrication methods. Here, we present a new economical process to fabricate carbon-based supports for electrocatalysts using recycled tire rubber as the main feedstock. Using the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) as an example, we deposited Pt nanocubes on tire-derived carbon with different textural properties and surface chemistries. Our results show that Pt nanocubes are most effective toward the ORR when loaded onto tire-derived carbon with an increased electrochemically active surface area, a decreased average pore diameter, lowmore » sulfur content, and good crystallinity. These properties collectively allow for high dispersion of Pt nanocubes onto the tire-derived carbon support, and hence, increase the activity toward oxygen reduction. When benchmarked against a commercial carbon black support (Ketjen-300), the tire-derived carbon support achieved similar performance. Our results highlight an effective approach to converting waste tires into carbon supports for electrocatalysis.« less
  2. Tin and tin oxide-based electrodes are promising high-capacity anodes for lithium-ion batteries. However, poor capacity retention is the major issue with these materials due to the large volumetric expansion that occurs when lithium is alloyed with tin during lithiation and delithiation process. Here, a method to prepare a low-cost, scalable carbon and tin(II) oxide composite anode is reported. The composite material was prepared by ball milling of carbon recovered from used tire powders with 25 wt% tin(II) oxide to form lithium-ion battery anode. With the impact of energy from the ball milling, tin oxide powders were uniformly distributed inside themore » pores of waste-tire-derived carbon. During lithiation and delithiation, the carbon matrix can effectively absorb the volume expansion caused by tin, thereby minimizing pulverization and capacity fade of the electrodes. In conclusion, the as-synthesized anode yielded a capacity of 690 mAh g –1 after 300 cycles at a current density of 40 mA g –1 with a stable battery performance.« less
  3. Biorefineries produce impure sugar waste streams that are being underutilized. By converting this waste to a profitable by-product, biorefineries could be safeguarded against low oil prices. We demonstrate controlled production of useful carbon materials from the waste concentrate via hydrothermal synthesis and carbonization. We devise a pathway to producing tunable, porous spherical carbon materials by modeling the gross structure formation and developing an understanding of the pore formation mechanism utilizing simple reaction principles. Compared to a simple hydrothermal synthesis from sugar concentrate, emulsion-based synthesis results in hollow spheres with abundant microporosity. In contrast, conventional hydrothermal synthesis produces solid beads withmore » micro and mesoporosity. All the carbonaceous materials show promise in energy storage application. Using our reaction pathway, perfect hollow activated carbon spheres can be produced from waste sugar in liquid effluence of biomass steam pretreatment units. As a result, the renewable carbon product demonstrated a desirable surface area of 872 m 2/g and capacitance of up to 109 F/g when made into an electric double layer supercapacitor. The capacitor exhibited nearly ideal capacitive behavior with 90.5% capacitance retention after 5000 cycles.« less
  4. Synthesis of multiphase materials from lignin, a biorefinery coproduct, offers limited success owing to the inherent difficulty in controlling dispersion of these renewable hyperbranched macromolecules in the product or its intermediates. Effective use of the chemically reactive functionalities in lignin, however, enables tuning morphologies of the materials. Here in this study, we bind lignin oligomers with a rubbery macromolecule followed by thermal crosslinking to form a carbon precursor with phase contrasted morphology at submicron scale. The solvent-free mixing is conducted in a high-shear melt mixer. With this, the carbon precursor is further modified with potassium hydroxide for a single-step carbonizationmore » to yield activated carbon with tunable pore structure. A typical precursor with 90 % lignin yields porous carbon with 2120 m 2 g -1 surface area and supercapacitor with 215 F g -1 capacitance. Lastly, the results show a simple route towards manufacturing carbon-based energy-storage materials, eliminating the need for conventional template synthesis.« less
  5. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste often contains a large amount of thermally unstable contaminants and additives that negatively impacts processing. A reduced processing temperature is desired. In this work, we report using a renewably sourced tall oil fatty acid (TOFA) as a modifier for recycled PET. To that end, PET was compounded with TOFA at different concentrations and extruded at 240 °C. Phase transition behaviors characterized by thermal and dynamic mechanical analyses exhibit shifts in the melting and recrystallization temperatures of PET to lower temperatures and depression of glass transition temperature from 91 to 65 °C. Addition of TOFA also createsmore » crystal-phase imperfection that slows recrystallization, an important processing parameter. Changes in the morphology of plasticized PET reduces and stabilizes the melt viscosity at 240 and 250 °C. Melt-spun, undrawn continuous filaments of diameter 36–46 μm made from these low-melting PET exhibit 29–38 MPa tensile strength, 2.7–2.8 GPa tensile modulus, and 20–36% elongation. These results suggest a potential path for reusing waste PET as high-performance polymeric fibers.« less
  6. The rapidly growing automobile industry increases the accumulation of end-of-life tires each year throughout the world. Waste tires lead to increased environmental issues and lasting resource problems. Recycling hazardous wastes to produce value-added products is becoming essential for the sustainable progress of society. A patented sulfonation process followed by pyrolysis at 1100 °C in a nitrogen atmosphere was used to produce carbon material from these tires and utilized as an anode in lithium-ion batteries. The combustion of the volatiles released in waste tire pyrolysis produces lower fossil CO 2 emissions per unit of energy (136.51 gCO 2/kW·h) compared to othermore » conventional fossil fuels such as coal or fuel–oil, usually used in power generation. The strategy used in this research may be applied to other rechargeable batteries, supercapacitors, catalysts, and other electrochemical devices. The Raman vibrational spectra observed on these carbons show a graphitic carbon with significant disorder structure. Further, structural studies reveal a unique disordered carbon nanostructure with a higher interlayer distance of 4.5 Å compared to 3.43 Å in the commercial graphite. The carbon material derived from tires was used as an anode in lithium-ion batteries exhibited a reversible capacity of 360 mAh/g at C/3. However, the reversible capacity increased to 432 mAh/g at C/10 when this carbon particle was coated with a thin layer of carbon. In conclusion, a novel strategy of prelithiation applied for improving the first cycle efficiency to 94% is also presented.« less
  7. The utilization of waste feedstocks rich in free fatty acids (FFAs) improves biofuel production on the basis of economics and sustainability. However, converting these feedstocks to usable biofuel poses inherent problems in terms of the FFA to biofuel conversion yield and the catalyst lifetime. Here, we report novel ferric sulfate impregnated carbon derived from waste tires as highly active catalysts for FFA to biofuel conversion. Our approach takes advantage of facile synthesis methods involving sonication and dehydration processes to create materials that are useful for the efficient catalytic conversion of FFAs to advanced biofuels. Esterification of FFAs to fatty acidmore » methyl esters was achieved at 65 °C and atmospheric pressure with >98% yield even in the presence of triglycerides. These catalysts maintained similar activity after four successive uses, which indicates that the active catalytic sites are effectively supported by the three-dimensional meso/microporous architecture of the tire-derived carbon.« less
  8. This work provides a proof of principle that a high volume, continuous throughput fiber coating process can be used to integrate semiconducting nanoparticles on carbon fiber surfaces to create multifunctional composites. By embedding silicon carbide nanoparticles in the fiber sizing, subsequent composite fabrication methods are used to create unidirectional fiber-reinforced composites with enhanced structural health monitoring (SHM) sensitivity and increased interlaminar strength. Additional investigations into the mechanical damping behavior of these functional composites reveal a significantly increased loss factor at the glass-transition temperature ranging from a 65 to 257% increase. Composites with both increased interlaminar strength and SHM sensitivity aremore » produced from a variety of epoxy and silicon carbide nanoparticle concentrations. Overall, the best performing composite in terms of combined performance shows an increase of 47.5% in SHM sensitivity and 7.7% increase in interlaminar strength. Finally, this work demonstrates successful and efficient integration of nanoparticle synthesis into large-scale, structural applications.« less
  9. Here, the article presents different mechanical, thermal and rheological data corresponding to the morphological formation within various renewable lignin-based composites containing acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR41, 41 mol% nitrile content), and carbon fibers (CFs). The data of 3D-printing properties and morphology of 3D-printed layers of selected lignin-based composites are revealed.
  10. Here, we report the utilization of a melt-stable lignin waste-stream from biorefineries as a renewable feedstock, with acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) polymer to synthesize a renewable matrix having excellent 3D-printability. While the initial low melt viscosity of the dispersed lignin phase induces local thermo-rheological relaxation facilitating the composite's melt flow, thermal crosslinking in both lignin and rubber phases as well as at the lignin-rubber interface decreases the molecular mobility. Consequently, interfacial diffusion and the resulting adhesion between deposited layers is decreased. However, addition of 10 wt.% of discontinuous carbon fibers (CFs) within the green composites not only significantly enhancesmore » the material performance but also lowers the degree of chemical crosslinking formed in the matrix during melt-phase synthesis. Furthermore, abundant functional groups including hydroxyl (from lignin) and nitrile (from rubber and ABS) allow combinations of hydrogen bonded structures where CFs play a critical bridging role between the deposited layers. As a result, a highly interfused printed structure with 100% improved inter-layer adhesion strength was obtained. This research offers a route toward utilizing lignin for replacement of petroleum-based thermoplastics used in additive manufacturing and methods to enhance printability of the materials with exceptional mechanical performance.« less

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