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Development of transition metal macrocyclic-catalysts supported on multi-walled carbon nanotubes for alkaline membrane fuel cell

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Low temperature fuel cells are very attractive energy conversion technology for automotive applications due to their qualities of being clean, quiet, efficient and good peak power densities. However, due to high cost and limited durability and reliability, commercialization of this

Low temperature fuel cells are very attractive energy conversion technology for automotive applications due to their qualities of being clean, quiet, efficient and good peak power densities. However, due to high cost and limited durability and reliability, commercialization of this technology has not been possible as yet. The high fuel cell cost is mostly due to the expensive noble catalyst Pt. Alkaline fuel cell (AFC) systems, have potential to make use of non-noble catalysts and thus, provides with a solution of overall lower cost. Therefore, this issue has been addressed in this thesis work. Hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells using an alkaline anion exchange membrane were prepared and evaluated. Various non-platinum catalyst materials were investigated by fabricating membrane-electrode assemblies (MEAs) using Tokuyama membrane (# A201) and compared with commercial noble metal catalysts. Co and Fe phthalocyanine catalyst materials were synthesized using multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) as support materials. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic study was conducted in order to examine the surface composition. The electroreduction of oxygen has been investigated on Fe phthalocyanine/MWCNT, Co phthalocyanine/MWCNT and commercial Pt/C catalysts. The oxygen reduction reaction kinetics on these catalyst materials were evaluated using rotating disk electrodes in 0.1 M KOH solution and the current density values were consistently higher for Co phthalocyanine based electrodes compared to Fe phthalocyanine. The fuel cell performance of the MEAs with Co and Fe phthalocyanines and Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo Pt/C cathode catalysts were 100, 60 and 120 mW cm-2 using H22 and O2 gases. This thesis also includes work on synthesizing nitrogen doped MWCNTs using post-doping and In-Situ methods. Post-doped N-MWNCTs were prepared through heat treatment with NH4OH as nitrogen source. Characterization was done through fuel cell testing, which gave peak power density ~40mW.cm-2. For In-Situ N-MWCT, pyridine was used as nitrogen source. The sample characterization was done using Raman spectroscopy and RBS, which showed the presence ~3 at.% of nitrogen on the carbon surface.

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2012

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Development of platinum-copper core-shell nanocatalyst on multi-walled carbon nanotubes for proton exchange membrane fuel cells

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With a recent shift to a more environmentally conscious society, low-carbon and non-carbon producing energy production methods are being investigated and applied all over the world. Of these methods, fuel cells show great potential for clean energy production. A fuel

With a recent shift to a more environmentally conscious society, low-carbon and non-carbon producing energy production methods are being investigated and applied all over the world. Of these methods, fuel cells show great potential for clean energy production. A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device which directly converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are a highly researched energy source for automotive and stationary power applications. In order to produce the power required to meet Department of Energy requirements, platinum (Pt) must be used as a catalyst material in PEMFCs. Platinum, however, is very expensive and extensive research is being conducted to develop ways to reduce the amount of platinum used in PEMFCs. In the current study, three catalyst synthesis techniques were investigated and evaluated on their effectiveness to produce platinum-on copper (Pt@Cu) core-shell nanocatalyst on multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) support material. These three methods were direct deposition method, two-phase surfactant method, and single-phase surfactant method, in which direct deposition did not use a surfactant for particle size control and the surfactant methods did. The catalyst materials synthesized were evaluated by visual inspection and fuel cell performance. Samples which produced high fuel cell power output were evaluated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging. After evaluation, it was concluded that the direct deposition technique was effective in synthesizing Pt@Cu core-shell nanocatalyst on MWCNTs support when a rinsing process was used before adding platinum. The peak power density achieved by the rinsed core-shell catalyst was 618 mW.cm-2 , 13 percent greater than that of commercial platinum-carbon (Pt/C) catalyst. Transmission electron microscopy imaging revealed the core-shell catalyst contained Pt shells and platinum-copper alloy cores. Rinsing with deionized (DI) water was shown to be a crucial step in core-shell catalyst deposition as it reduced the number of platinum colloids on the carbon nanotube surface. After evaluation, it was concluded that the two-phase surfactant and single-phase surfactant synthesis methods were not effective at producing core-shell nanocatalyst with the parameters investigated.

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2012

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Comparison of four methods to assess silver release from nano impregnated reverse osmosis membranes

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With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials,

With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials, it is a suitable material that can be used to incorporate with RO to change the membrane performances. Silver is biocidal, which has been used in a variety of consumer products. Recent studies showed that fabricating silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) on membrane surfaces can mitigate the biofouling problem on the membrane. Studies have shown that Ag released from the membrane in the form of either Ag ions or AgNP will accelerate the antimicrobial activity of the membrane. However, the silver release from the membrane will lower the silver loading on the membrane, which will eventually shorten the antimicrobial activity lifetime of the membrane. Therefore, the silver leaching amount is a crucial parameter that needs to be determined for every type of Ag composite membrane.

This study is attempting to compare four different silver leaching test methods, to study the silver leaching potential of the silver impregnated membranes, conducting the advantages and disadvantages of the leaching methods. An In-situ reduction Ag loaded RO membrane was examined in this study. A custom waterjet test was established to create a high-velocity water flow to test the silver leaching from the nanocomposite membrane in a relative extreme environment. The batch leaching test was examined as the most common leaching test method for the silver composite membrane. The cross-flow filtration and dead-end test were also examined to compare the silver leaching amounts.

The silver coated membrane used in this experiment has an initial silver loading of 2.0± 0.51 ug/cm2. The mass balance was conducted for all of the leaching tests. For the batch test, water jet test, and dead-end filtration, the mass balances are all within 100±25%, which is acceptable in this experiment because of the variance of the initial silver loading on the membranes. A bad silver mass balance was observed at cross-flow filtration. Both of AgNP and Ag ions leached in the solution was examined in this experiment. The concentration of total silver leaching into solutions from the four leaching tests are all below the Secondary Drinking Water Standard for silver which is 100 ppb. The cross-flow test is the most aggressive leaching method, which has more than 80% of silver leached from the membrane after 50 hours of the test. The water jet (54 ± 6.9% of silver remaining) can cause higher silver leaching than batch test (85 ± 1.2% of silver remaining) in one-hour, and it can also cause both AgNP and Ag ions leaching from the membrane, which is closer to the leaching condition in the cross-flow test.

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2017

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Characterization and analysis of long term field aged photovoltaic modules and encapsulant materials

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Photovoltaic (PV) module degradation is a well-known issue, however understanding the mechanistic pathways in which modules degrade is still a major task for the PV industry. In order to study the mechanisms responsible for PV module degradation, the effects of

Photovoltaic (PV) module degradation is a well-known issue, however understanding the mechanistic pathways in which modules degrade is still a major task for the PV industry. In order to study the mechanisms responsible for PV module degradation, the effects of these degradation mechanisms must be quantitatively measured to determine the severity of each degradation mode. In this thesis multiple modules from three climate zones (Arizona, California and Colorado) were investigated for a single module glass/polymer construction (Siemens M55) to determine the degree to which they had degraded, and the main factors that contributed to that degradation. To explain the loss in power, various nondestructive and destructive techniques were used to indicate possible causes of loss in performance. This is a two-part thesis. Part 1 presents non-destructive test results and analysis and Part 2 presents destructive test results and analysis.

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2015

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Dependence of toxicity test results on sample removal methods of PV modules

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The volume of end-of-life photovoltaic (PV) modules is increasing as the global PV market increases, and the global PV waste streams are expected to reach 250,000 metric tons by the end of 2020. If the recycling processes are not in

The volume of end-of-life photovoltaic (PV) modules is increasing as the global PV market increases, and the global PV waste streams are expected to reach 250,000 metric tons by the end of 2020. If the recycling processes are not in place, there would be 60 million tons of end-of-life PV modules lying in the landfills by 2050, that may not become a not-so-sustainable way of sourcing energy since all PV modules could contain certain amount of toxic substances. Currently in the United States, PV modules are categorized as general waste and can be disposed in landfills. However, potential leaching of toxic chemicals and materials, if any, from broken end-of-life modules may pose health or environmental risks. There is no standard procedure to remove samples from PV modules for chemical toxicity testing in the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) laboratories as per EPA 1311 standard. The main objective of this thesis is to develop an unbiased sampling approach for the TCLP testing of PV modules. The TCLP testing was concentrated only for the laminate part of the modules, as they are already existing recycling technologies for the frame and junction box components of PV modules. Four different sample removal methods have been applied to the laminates of five different module manufacturers: coring approach, cell-cut approach, strip-cut approach, and hybrid approach. These removed samples were sent to two different TCLP laboratories, and TCLP results were tested for repeatability within a lab and reproducibility between the labs. The pros and cons of each sample removal method have been explored and the influence of sample removal methods on the variability of TCLP results has been discussed. To reduce the variability of TCLP results to an acceptable level, additional improvements in the coring approach, the best of the four tested options, are still needed.

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2018

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Combined UV-temperature-humidity accelerated testing of PV modules: reliability of UV-cut and UV-pass EVA encapsulants

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In the past, the photovoltaic (PV) modules were typically constructed with glass superstrate containing cerium oxide and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) encapsulant containing UV absorbing additives. However, in the current industry, the PV modules are generally constructed without cerium oxide

In the past, the photovoltaic (PV) modules were typically constructed with glass superstrate containing cerium oxide and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) encapsulant containing UV absorbing additives. However, in the current industry, the PV modules are generally constructed without cerium oxide in the glass and UV absorbing additives in EVA to increase quantum efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells in the UV regions. This new approach is expected to boost the initial power output of the modules and reduce the long-term encapsulant browning issues. However, this new approach could lead to other durability and reliability issues such as delamination of encapsulant by damaging interfacial bonds, destruction of antireflection coating on solar cells and even breakage of polymeric backbone of EVA. This work compares the durability and reliability issues of PV modules having glass without cerium oxide and EVA with (aka, UVcut or UVC) and without (aka, UVpass or UVP) UV absorbing additives. In addition, modules with UVP front and UVC back EVA have also been investigated (aka, UVhybrid or UVH). The mini-modules with nine split cells used in this work were fabricated at ASU’s Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory. The durability and reliability caused by three stress variables have been investigated and the three variables are temperature, humidity/oxygen and UV dosage. The influence of up to 800 kWh/m2 UV dosage has been investigated at various dosage levels. Many material and device characterizations have been performed to ascertain the degradation modes and effects. The UVC modules showed encapsulant discoloration at the cell centers as expected but the UVH modules showed a ring-shaped encapsulant discoloration close to the cell edges as evidenced in the UV fluorescence (UVF) imaging study. The PV modules containing UVP on both sides of cells with limited access to humidity or oxygen through backsheet (covered backsheet with adhesive aluminum tape) seem to experience encapsulant delamination as evidenced in the UVF images. Plausible explanations for these observations have been presented.

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2019

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Structure-Function Relationships of Nanomaterials and Their Applications For the Development of Sustainable Environmental Engineering

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This dissertation focuses on the structure-function relationships of nanomaterials (NMs) and some of their applications in environmental engineering. The aim is to investigate NMs of different surface chemistries and assess their interactions with biological models, evaluate the weathering impact and

This dissertation focuses on the structure-function relationships of nanomaterials (NMs) and some of their applications in environmental engineering. The aim is to investigate NMs of different surface chemistries and assess their interactions with biological models, evaluate the weathering impact and degradation parameters to improve polymer coatings, test their efficiency for contaminant removal and provide further understanding in the safe design of nanomaterials. Nanoecotoxicological risk assessment currently suffers from a lack of testing procedures adapted to nanomaterials. Graphene oxide (GO) is a carbon nanomaterial (CNM) that consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal network. It is decorated with a high density of oxygen functional groups including epoxide and hydroxyl moieties on the basal planes and carboxylic and carbonyl groups at the edges. The changes in surface chemistry give GO unique properties that can be tailored for a function. Additionally, because of its simple synthesis and flexible chemistry, GO has been a popular building block of many composite CNMs. In environmental engineering, specifically, water treatment, GO has been studied by itself or as a composite for pollutant removal, biofouling reduction, and as an antimicrobial agent, just to name a few. Like GO, silver (Ag) is another NM widely used in water treatment for its biocidal properties. Despite the recent growth in this field, a fundamental understanding of the function-structure relationships in NMs is still progressing. Through a systematic set of experiments, the structure-properties-function and structure-properties-hazard relationships were investigated. These relationships can be used to establish guidelines to engineer “safe-by-design” functional nanomaterials, where materials are tailored to enhance their function while minimizing their inherent biological or environmental hazard.

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2021