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Author ORCID ID is 0000000282520194
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  1. Here, the production of biodiesel by the esterification of oleic acid, as an example of free fatty acid (FFA), was explored by using a new solid acid catalyst derived from lignin, a highly abundant low-cost biomass material. The catalyst was synthesized from lignin-derived carbon fiber by straightforward sulfonation and contains 1.86 mmol/g of sulfonic acid (-SO 3H) groups. The catalyst was characterized by a variety of techniques including PXRD, TGA, TPD-MS, SEM, and XPS to understand the surface chemistry and the result of sulfonation. It was found that the sulfonated lignin-derived carbon fiber (CF-SO 3H) catalyst was very efficient atmore » esterifying oleic acid at 80 oC in 4 hours, with 10 wt. % catalyst (in terms of oleic acid content) and at a 10:1 molar ratio of methanol: oleic acid with a yield of 92%. Furthermore, the catalyst can be reused with no significant loss in activity after 4 cycles. Hence, synthesizing solid acid catalysts from lignin-derived carbon fiber affords a novel strategy for producing biodiesel via ‘green chemistry’.« less
  2. Biomass pyrolysis to produce biofuel and hydrogen yields large amounts of charred byproducts with low commercial value. A study was conducted to evaluate their potential for being converted into higher value activated carbons by a low-cost process. Six chars derived from various lignocellulosic precursors were activated in CO 2 at 800 °C to 30–35% weight loss, and their surface area and porosity were characterized by nitrogen adsorption at 77 K. It was found that, in similar activation conditions, the surface area of the activated carbons correlates with the activation energy of the oxidation reaction by CO 2, which in turnmore » varies inversely with the carbon yield after thermolysis in nitrogen at 1000 °C. Since lignin is the most thermally-stable component of lignocellulosic biomass, these results demonstrate, indirectly, that robust, lignin-rich vegetal precursors are to be preferred to produce higher quality activated carbons. The chars derived from white pine (pinus strobus) and chestnut oak (quercus prinus) were converted to activated carbons with the highest surface area (900–1100 m 2/g) and largest mesopores volume (0.85–1.06 cm 3/g). These activated carbons have properties similar to those of commercially-available activated carbons used successfully for removal of pollutants from aqueous solutions.« less
  3. Microstructural changes induced by neutron irradiation of superfine grain graphite G347A (Tokai Carbon, Japan) were examined by nitrogen adsorption at 77 K and by three microscopy techniques (SEM, TEM and FIB-SEM tomography). The specimens were irradiated at doses of up to 30 dpa, covering stages before and after the turnaround fluence at three temperatures (300, 450, 750 °C) of their irradiation envelope. The initial graphite densification at low fluences did not produce any detectable effect in the pore size range (<350 nm) measured by gas adsorption. However, graphite irradiated at high fluences, after turnaround, showed severe structural changes. At allmore » three temperatures and high irradiation fluences, gas adsorption revealed significant increase of the volume of narrow mesopores (<5–20 nm) and up to five times increase of BET surface area, both in linear relationship with the relative volume expansion. Analysis of microscopy images showed multiplication of fine macropores (>50 nm) at high irradiation fluences and more structural changes on multiple scales, from nanometers to microns. As a result, this work demonstrates the unique ability of gas adsorption techniques to analyze open pores with sizes between sub-nanometer and sub-micron in bulk nuclear graphite, with supporting microscopy results.« less

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