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Biopolymer synthesis of pourous carbon nanocomposites

Danks, Ashleigh Edwards (2017)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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As the world faces resource management problems such as providing sustainable energy and sourcing rare elements, demand is growing for new materials to help combat these. Biopolymer sol-gel synthesis has the potential to create a wide range of functional materials, in particular from the spontaneous foaming of gelatin and metal nitrates upon drying. If this process can be controlled and expanded to other biopolymers then catalytic systems could be designed for many applications.
The gelatin foaming mechanism was investigated by a variety of techniques including small angle neutron scattering and rheology. The cause of the foaming was attributed to the evaporation of water and the gels ability to stabilise the bubbles formed. Links between the structural properties of the gel and porous carbon have been suggested as a way of predicting and selecting certain morphologies whilst in the liquid state.
Research has also been carried out using microwaves as an alternative to conventional furnaces, this was done to make the synthesis more environmentally friendly. During this research several metal carbides/nitrides were synthesised, including metastable phases.
Using this biopolymer sol-gel synthesis, materials were synthesised and tested as catalysts for both methanol steam reforming and hydrogen evolution reactions as examples of possible applications for this research. Both sets of materials showed activity for their respective reactions in line with current literature.
Finally, further optimisation is possible on all aspects of this thesis and future research should be carried out to maximise the potential of this facile and versatile synthesis technique.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Schnepp, Zoe
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
Department:School of Chemistry
Subjects:QD Chemistry
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:7730
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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