A Mechanistic Exploration of Porous Carbons Derived from Simple Polysaccharides with Embedded Metal Nanoparticles and their Relevance to Environmental and Electrochemical Applications
- Author(s): Villalobos, Fabian E
- Advisor(s): Ozkan, Cengiz
- Ozkan, Mihri
- et al.
Presented herein are a review of climate change, renewable energy, and the need for energy storage along with a review of oil spills and the need for alternative methods of oil recovery, and finally the potential for carbon foams to address the needs for both as demonstrated by the research accomplished. Research performed with respect to carbon foams includes their polymerization from simple sugars; mechanisms for the growth of embedded metal particles (ranging from the micron- to nano-size); the encapsulation by graphite of metals with sufficient carbon solubility; and utilization of carbon solubility to use the foam as a substrate for growth of carbon nanotubes and graphene; and applications of the varieties of foams generated during the course of the research. A mechanism is proposed for the oxidation of simple polysaccharides and monosaccharides for the polymerization of the carbon foam from soluble precursors in aqueous solution a gel-resin capable of volumetric expansion commonly termed a carbon foam. The analysis of new carbons foams using a variety of metal nitrate precursors to generate alternative foams is presented using a variety of characterization techniques such as XRD, Raman, Micro-CT, BET, ImageJ software, SEM, EDS, STEM, and EELS. Analysis of the carbon nanotubes grown on carbon foam substrates was performed using XRD, Raman, SAS statistical software, SEM, and TEM. Applications of carbon foams with embedded metal particles and carbon nanotubes include: a hierarchical sponge with oleophilic and hydrophobic properties as a selective oil sorbent material; carbon nanotube coated micron-sized particle as active material in an electrochemical double-layer capacitor; and the use of carbon foams as a sacrificial scaffold for the growth of metal foams. A review of the research concludes the thesis as well as recommendations and potential projects for those who may continue the study of carbon foams and their applications.