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New insights into the pore development mechanism of layered hydroxides upon thermal activation

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Layered double hydroxides (LDHs), also known as hydrotalcite-like materials, are extensively used as precursors for the preparation of (photo-)catalysts, electrodes, magnetic materials, sorbents, etc. The synthesis typically involves the transformation to the corresponding mixed metal oxide via calcination, resulting in

Layered double hydroxides (LDHs), also known as hydrotalcite-like materials, are extensively used as precursors for the preparation of (photo-)catalysts, electrodes, magnetic materials, sorbents, etc. The synthesis typically involves the transformation to the corresponding mixed metal oxide via calcination, resulting in atomically dispersed mixed metal oxides (MMOs). This process alters the porosity of the materials, with crucial implications for the performance in many applications. Yet, the mechanisms of pore formation and collapse are poorly understood. Combining an integrated in situ and ex situ characterization approach, here we follow the evolution of porosity changes during the thermal decomposition of LDHs integrating different divalent (Mg, Ni) and trivalent (Al, Ga) metals. Variations in porous properties determined by high-resolution argon sorption are linked to the morphological and compositional changes in the samples by in situ transmission electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, which is facilitated by the synthesis of well crystallized LDHs of large crystal size. The observations are correlated with the phase changes identified by X-ray diffraction, the mass losses evidenced by thermogravimetric analysis, the structural changes determined by infrared and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and the pore connectivity analyzed by positron annihilation spectroscopy. The findings show that the multimetallic nature of the LDH governs the size and distribution (geometry, location, and connectivity) of the mesopores developed, which is controlled by the crystallization of the MMO phase, providing key insights for the improved design of porous mixed metal oxides.

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2017-05

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Effect of Cellulose Templating on Nanostructured Lithium Lanthanum Zirconium Oxide (LLZO)

Description

Lithium-ion batteries are the predominant source of electrical energy storage for most portable electronics applications, including hybrid/electric vehicles, laptops, and cellular phones. However, these batteries pose safety concerns due to their flammability and tendency to violently ignite upon short circuiting

Lithium-ion batteries are the predominant source of electrical energy storage for most portable electronics applications, including hybrid/electric vehicles, laptops, and cellular phones. However, these batteries pose safety concerns due to their flammability and tendency to violently ignite upon short circuiting or failing. Solid electrolytes are a current research development aimed at reducing the flammability and reactivity of lithium batteries. The compound Li7La3Zr2O12, or LLZO, exhibits satisfactory ionic conductivity in the cubic phase, which is normally synthesized via doping with Al. It has recently been discovered that synthesizing nanostructured LLZO can stabilize the cubic phase without the need for doping. Here nanostructured LLZO was formed using templating on various cellulosic fibers, including cotton fibers, printer paper, filter paper, and nanocellulose fibrils followed by calcination at 700-800 °C. The effect of templating material, calcination temperature, calcination time, and heating ramp rate on LLZO phase and morphology was thoroughly investigated. Templating was determined to be an effective method for controlling the LLZO size and morphology, and most templating experiments resulted in LLZO fibers or ligaments similar in size and morphology to the original template material. A systematic study on the various experimental parameters was performed, concluding that low calcination time and low ramp rate favored smaller ligament formation. Further, it was verified that cubic phase stabilization occurred for LLZO with ligaments of less than 1 micron on average without the use of doping. This research provides more information regarding the size dependence on cubic LLZO stabilization that has not been previously investigated in detail.

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2015-05

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Carbonate-ceramic dual-phase membranes for high temperature carbon dioxide separation

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Emission of CO2 into the atmosphere has become an increasingly concerning issue as we progress into the 21st century Flue gas from coal-burning power plants accounts for 40% of all carbon dioxide emissions. The key to successful separation

Emission of CO2 into the atmosphere has become an increasingly concerning issue as we progress into the 21st century Flue gas from coal-burning power plants accounts for 40% of all carbon dioxide emissions. The key to successful separation and sequestration is to separate CO2 directly from flue gas (10-15% CO2, 70% N2), which can range from a few hundred to as high as 1000°C. Conventional microporous membranes (carbons/silicas/zeolites) are capable of separating CO2 from N2 at low temperatures, but cannot achieve separation above 200°C. To overcome the limitations of microporous membranes, a novel ceramic-carbonate dual-phase membrane for high temperature CO2 separation was proposed. The membrane was synthesized from porous La0.6Sr0.4Co0.8Fe0.2O3-d (LSCF) supports and infiltrated with molten carbonate (Li2CO3/Na2CO3/K2CO3). The CO2 permeation mechanism involves a reaction between CO2 (gas phase) and O= (solid phase) to form CO3=, which is then transported through the molten carbonate (liquid phase) to achieve separation. The effects of membrane thickness, temperature and CO2 partial pressure were studied. Decreasing thickness from 3.0 to 0.375 mm led to higher fluxes at 900°C, ranging from 0.186 to 0.322 mL.min-1.cm-2 respectively. CO2 flux increased with temperature from 700 to 900°C. Activation energy for permeation was similar to that for oxygen ion conduction in LSCF. For partial pressures above 0.05 atm, the membrane exhibited a nearly constant flux. From these observations, it was determined that oxygen ion conductivity limits CO2 permeation and that the equilibrium oxygen vacancy concentration in LSCF is dependent on the partial pressure of CO2 in the gas phase. Finally, the dual-phase membrane was used as a membrane reactor. Separation at high temperatures can produce warm, highly concentrated streams of CO2 that could be used as a chemical feedstock for the synthesis of syngas (H2 + CO). Towards this, three different membrane reactor configurations were examined: 1) blank system, 2) LSCF catalyst and 3) 10% Ni/y-alumina catalyst. Performance increased in the order of blank system < LSCF catalyst < Ni/y-alumina catalyst. Favorable conditions for syngas production were high temperature (850°C), low sweep gas flow rate (10 mL.min-1) and high methane concentration (50%) using the Ni/y-alumina catalyst.

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2011

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Synthesis and stability of ceramic-carbonate dual-phase membrane for carbon dioxide separation

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Of the potential technologies for pre-combustion capture, membranes offer the advantages of being temperature resistant, able to handle large flow rates, and having a relatively small footprint. A significant amount of research has centered on the use of polymeric and

Of the potential technologies for pre-combustion capture, membranes offer the advantages of being temperature resistant, able to handle large flow rates, and having a relatively small footprint. A significant amount of research has centered on the use of polymeric and microporous inorganic membranes to separate CO2. These membranes, however, have limitations at high temperature resulting in poor permeation performance. To address these limitations, the use of a dense dual-phase membrane has been studied. These membranes are composed of conductive solid and conductive liquid phases that have the ability to selectively permeate CO2 by forming carbonate ions that diffuse through the membrane at high temperature. The driving force for transport through the membrane is a CO2 partial pressure gradient. The membrane provides a theoretically infinite selectivity. To address stability of the ceramic-carbonate dual-phase membrane for CO2 capture at high temperature, the ceramic phase of the membrane was studied and replaced with materials previously shown to be stable in harsh conditions. The permeation properties and stability of La0.6Sr0.4Co0.8Fe0.2O3-δ (LSCF)-carbonate, La0.85Ce0.1Ga0.3Fe0.65Al0.05O3-δ (LCGFA)-carbonate, and Ce0.8Sm0.2O1.9 (SDC)-carbonate membranes were examined under a wide range of experimental conditions at high temperature. LSCF-carbonate membranes were shown to be unstable without the presence of O2 due to reaction of CO2 with the ceramic phase. In the presence of O2, however, the membranes showed stable permeation behavior for more than one month at 900oC. LCGFA-carbonate membranes showed great chemical and permeation stability in the presence of various conditions including exposure to CH4 and H2, however, the permeation performance was quite low when compared to membranes in the literature. Finally, SDC-carbonate membranes showed great chemical and permeation stability both in a CO2:N2 environment for more than two weeks at 900oC as well as more than one month of exposure to simulated syngas conditions at 700oC. Ceramic phase chemical stability increased in the order of LSCF < LCGFA < SDC while permeation performance increased in the order of LCGFA < LSCF < SDC.

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2013

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Synthesis of amine-modified aerogel sorbents and metal-organic framework-5 (MOF-5) membranes for carbon dioxide separation

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Amine-modified solid sorbents and membrane separation are promising technologies for separation and capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from combustion flue gas. Amine absorption processes are mature, but still have room for improvement. This work focused on the synthesis of amine-modified

Amine-modified solid sorbents and membrane separation are promising technologies for separation and capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from combustion flue gas. Amine absorption processes are mature, but still have room for improvement. This work focused on the synthesis of amine-modified aerogels and metal-organic framework-5 (MOF-5) membranes for CO2 separation. A series of solid sorbents were synthesized by functionalizing amines on the surface of silica aerogels. This was done by three coating methods: physical adsorption, magnetically assisted impact coating (MAIC) and atomic layer deposition (ALD). CO2 adsorption capacity of the sorbents was measured at room temperature in a Cahn microbalance. The sorbents synthesized by physical adsorption show the largest CO2 adsorption capacity (1.43-1.63 mmol CO2/g). An additional sorbent synthesized by ALD on hydrophilic aerogels at atmospheric pressures shows an adsorption capacity of 1.23 mmol CO2/g. Studies on one amine-modified sorbent show that the powder is of agglomerate bubbling fluidization (ABF) type. The powder is difficult to fluidize and has limited bed expansion. The ultimate goal is to configure the amine-modified sorbents in a micro-jet assisted gas fluidized bed to conduct adsorption studies. MOF-5 membranes were synthesized on α-alumina supports by two methods: in situ synthesis and secondary growth synthesis. Characterization by scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging and X-ray diffraction (XRD) show that the membranes prepared by both methods have a thickness of 14-16 μm, and a MOF-5 crystal size of 15-25 μm with no apparent orientation. Single gas permeation results indicate that the gas transport through both membranes is determined by a combination of Knudsen diffusion and viscous flow. The contribution of viscous flow indicates that the membranes have defects.

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2010

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Synthesis and carbon dioxide adsorption properties of amine modified particulate silica aerogel sorbents

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Post-combustion carbon capture is a viable option for reducing CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, and one potentially promising technology for this route is adsorption using chemically and physically based sorbents. A number of exceptional CO2 sorbents materials have been prepared including

Post-combustion carbon capture is a viable option for reducing CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, and one potentially promising technology for this route is adsorption using chemically and physically based sorbents. A number of exceptional CO2 sorbents materials have been prepared including metal organic frameworks, zeolites, and carbon based materials. One particular group of capable materials are amine based solid sorbents that has shown to possess high adsorption capacities and favorable adsorption kinetics. A key variable in the synthesis of an amine based sorbent is the support which acts as the platform for the amine modification. Aerogels, due to their high porosities and surface areas, appear to be a promising support for an amine modified CO2 sorbent. Therefore, in order to develop a commercially viable CO2 sorbent, particulate aerogels manufactured by Cabot Corporation through an economical and proprietary ambient drying process were modified with amines using a variety of functionalization methods. Two methods of physical impregnation of the amino polymer TEPA were performed in order to observe the performance as well as understand the effects of how the TEPA distribution is affected by the method of introduction. Both samples showed excellent adsorption capacities but poor cyclic stability for lack of any covalent attachment. Furthermore the method of TEPA impregnation seems to be independent on how the polymer will be distributed in the pore space of aerogel. The last two methods utilized involved covalently attaching amino silanes to the surface silanols of the aerogel. One method was performed in the liquid phase under anhydrous and hydrous conditions. The materials developed through the hydrous method have much greater adsorption capacities relative to the anhydrous sample as a result of the greater amine content present in the hydrous sample. Water is another source of silylation where additional silanes can attach and polymerize. These samples also possessed stable cyclic stability after 100 adsorption/regeneration cycles. The other method of grafting was performed in the gas phase through ALD. These samples possessed exceptionally high amine efficiencies and levels of N content without damaging the microstructure of the aerogel in contrast to the liquid phase grafted sorbents.

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2014

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Modeling and analysis on pervaporation separation of composite zeolite membranes

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Pervaporation is a membrane separation technology that has had industrial application and which is the subject of ongoing research. Two major factors are important in judging the quality of a membrane: selectivity and permeation flux. Although many types of materials

Pervaporation is a membrane separation technology that has had industrial application and which is the subject of ongoing research. Two major factors are important in judging the quality of a membrane: selectivity and permeation flux. Although many types of materials can be used for the separation layer, zeolites will be the material considered in this thesis. A simple mathematical model has been developed to demonstrate the inter-relationships between relative permeation flux, reduced selectivity, and the relative resistance to mass transfer of the support to the zeolite layer. The model was applied to several membranes from our laboratory and to two examples from the literature. The model offers a useful way of conceptualizing membrane performance and facilitates the comparison of different membrane performances. The model predicts the effect of different supports on zeolite supported membrane performance.

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2014

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Polymer-gold composite particles: synthesis, characterization, application, and beyond

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Polymer-gold composite particles are of tremendous research interests. Contributed by their unique structures, these particles demonstrate superior properties for optical, catalytic and electrical applications. Moreover, the incorporation of “smart” polymers into polymer-gold composite particles enables the composite particles synergistically respond

Polymer-gold composite particles are of tremendous research interests. Contributed by their unique structures, these particles demonstrate superior properties for optical, catalytic and electrical applications. Moreover, the incorporation of “smart” polymers into polymer-gold composite particles enables the composite particles synergistically respond to environment-stimuli like temperature, pH and light with promising applications in multiple areas.

A novel Pickering emulsion polymerization route is found for synthesis of core-shell structured polymer-gold composite particles. It is found that the surface coverage of gold nanoparticles (AuNP) on a polystyrene core is influenced by gold nanoparticle concentration and hydrophobicity. More importantly, the absorption wavelength of polystyrene-gold composite particles is tunable by adjusting AuNP interparticle distance. Further, core-shell structured polystyrene-gold composite particles demonstrate excellent catalyst recyclability.

Asymmetric polystyrene-gold composite particles are successfully synthesized via seeded emulsion polymerization, where AuNPs serve as seeds, allowing the growth of styrene monomers/oligomers on them. These particles also demonstrate excellent catalyst recyclability. Further, monomers of “smart” polymers, poly (N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm), are successfully copolymerized into asymmetric composite particles, enabling these particles’ thermo-responsiveness with significant size variation around lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of 31°C. The significant size variation gives rise to switchable scattering intensity property, demonstrating potential applications in intensity-based optical sensing.

Multipetal and dumbbell structured gold-polystyrene composite particles are also successfully synthesized via seeded emulsion polymerization. It is intriguing to observe that by controlling reaction time and AuNP size, tetrapetal-structured, tripetal-structured and dumbbell-structured gold-polystyrene are obtained. Further, “smart” PNIPAm polymers are successfully copolymerized into dumbbell-shaped particles, showing significant size variation around LCST. Self-modulated catalytic activity around LCST is achieved for these particles. It is hypothesized that above LCST, the significant shrinkage of particles limits diffusion of reaction molecules to the surface of AuNPs, giving a reduced catalytic activity.

Finally, carbon black (CB) particles are successfully employed for synthesis of core- shell PNIPAm/polystyrene-CB particles. The thermo-responsive absorption characteristics of PNIPAm/polystyrene-CB particles enable them potentially suitable to serve as “smart” nanofluids with self-controlled temperature. Compared to AuNPs, CB particles provide desirable performance here, because they show no plasmon resonance in visible wavelength range, whereas AuNPs’ absorption in the visible wavelength range is undesirable.

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2015

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Continuous in-situ removal of butanol from clostridium acetobutylicum fermentations via expanded-bed adsorption

Description

The use of petroleum for liquid-transportation fuels has strained the environment and caused the global crude oil reserves to diminish. Therefore, there exists a need to replace petroleum as the primary fuel derivative. Butanol is a four-carbon alcohol that can

The use of petroleum for liquid-transportation fuels has strained the environment and caused the global crude oil reserves to diminish. Therefore, there exists a need to replace petroleum as the primary fuel derivative. Butanol is a four-carbon alcohol that can be used to effectively replace gasoline without changing the current automotive infrastructure. Additionally, butanol offers the same environmentally friendly effects as ethanol, but possess a 23% higher energy density. Clostridium acetobutylicum is an anaerobic bacterium that can ferment renewable biomass-derived sugars into butanol. However, this fermentation becomes limited by relatively low butanol concentrations (1.3% w/v), making this process uneconomical. To economically produce butanol, the in-situ product removal (ISPR) strategy is employed to the butanol fermentation. ISPR entails the removal of butanol as it is produced, effectively avoiding the toxicity limit and allowing for increased overall butanol production. This thesis explores the application of ISPR through integration of expanded-bed adsorption (EBA) with the C. acetobutylicum butanol fermentations. The goal is to enhance volumetric productivity and to develop a semi-continuous biofuel production process. The hydrophobic polymer resin adsorbent Dowex Optipore L-493 was characterized in cell-free studies to determine the impact of adsorbent mass and circulation rate on butanol loading capacity and removal rate. Additionally, the EBA column was optimized to use a superficial velocity of 9.5 cm/min and a resin fraction of 50 g/L. When EBA was applied to a fed-batch butanol fermentation performed under optimal operating conditions, a total of 25.5 g butanol was produced in 120 h, corresponding to an average yield on glucose of 18.6%. At this level, integration of EBA for in situ butanol recovered enabled the production of 33% more butanol than the control fermentation. These results are very promising for the production of butanol as a biofuel. Future work will entail the optimization of the fed-batch process for higher glucose utilization and development of a reliable butanol recovery system from the resin.

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2013

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Synthesis and characterization of microporous inorganic membranes for propylene/propane separation

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Membrane-based gas separation is promising for efficient propylene/propane (C3H6/C3H8) separation with low energy consumption and minimum environment impact. Two microporous inorganic membrane candidates, MFI-type zeolite membrane and carbon molecular sieve membrane (CMS) have demonstrated excellent thermal and chemical stability. Application

Membrane-based gas separation is promising for efficient propylene/propane (C3H6/C3H8) separation with low energy consumption and minimum environment impact. Two microporous inorganic membrane candidates, MFI-type zeolite membrane and carbon molecular sieve membrane (CMS) have demonstrated excellent thermal and chemical stability. Application of these membranes into C3H6/C3H8 separation has not been well investigated. This dissertation presents fundamental studies on membrane synthesis, characterization and C3H6/C3H8 separation properties of MFI zeolite membrane and CMS membrane.

MFI zeolite membranes were synthesized on α-alumina supports by secondary growth method. Novel positron annihilation spectroscopy (PAS) techniques were used to non-destructively characterize the pore structure of these membranes. PAS reveals a bimodal pore structure consisting of intracrystalline zeolitic micropores of ~0.6 nm in diameter and irregular intercrystalline micropores of 1.4 to 1.8 nm in size for the membranes. The template-free synthesized membrane exhibited a high permeance but a low selectivity in C3H6/C3H8 mixture separation.

CMS membranes were synthesized by coating/pyrolysis method on mesoporous γ-alumina support. Such supports allow coating of thin, high-quality polymer films and subsequent CMS membranes with no infiltration into support pores. The CMS membranes show strong molecular sieving effect, offering a high C3H6/C3H8 mixture selectivity of ~30. Reduction in membrane thickness from 500 nm to 300 nm causes an increase in C3H8 permeance and He/N2 selectivity, but a decrease in the permeance of He, N2 and C3H6 and C3H6/C3H8 selectivity. This can be explained by the thickness dependent chain mobility of the polymer film resulting in final carbon membrane of reduced pore size with different effects on transport of gas of different sizes, including possible closure of C3H6-accessible micropores.

CMS membranes demonstrate excellent C3H6/C3H8 separation performance over a wide range of feed pressure, composition and operation temperature. No plasticization was observed at a feed pressure up to 100 psi. The permeation and separation is mainly controlled by diffusion instead of adsorption. CMS membrane experienced a decline in permeance, and an increase in selectivity over time under on-stream C3H6/C3H8 separation. This aging behavior is due to the reduction in effective pore size and porosity caused by oxygen chemisorption and physical aging of the membrane structure.

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2015