Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Phosphoric Acid Chemically Activated Waste Wood
Activated Carbon (AC) is commonly produced by gasification, but there has been increasing interest in chemical activation due to its lower activation temperatures and higher yields. Phosphoric acid, in particular, succeeds in both these areas. Phosphoric acid activated carbon (PAC) can be environmentally sustainable, and economically favourable, when the phosphoric acid used in the activation is recycled. This thesis describes the digestion and activation of waste wood using phosphoric acid, as well as methods used to recover phosphoric acid, functionalize the produced activated carbon with iron salts and then test their efficacy on the adsorption of target analytes, selenite and selenate. In order to achieve an efficient phosphoric acid based chemical activation, further understanding of the activation process is needed. A two-step phosphoric acid activation process with waste wood feed stock was examined. The filtrate washes of the crude product and the surface composition of the produced PAC were characterized using X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Fourier Transform-Infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), Ion Chromatography (IC), and 31P Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). XPS of the unwashed PAC contained 13.3 atomic percent phosphorous, as phosphoric acid, while the washed sample contained 1.4 atomic percent phosphorous as PO43-, and P2O74-. Using 31P NMR, phosphoric acid was identified as the primary phosphorous species in the acidic 0.1 M HCl washings, with pyrophosphates also appearing in the second 0.1 M NaOH neutralizing wash, and finally a weak signal from phosphates with an alkyl component also appearing in the DI wash. IC showed high concentrations of phosphoric acid in the 0.1 M HCl wash with progressively lower concentrations in both the NaOH and DI washes. Total phosphoric acid recovery was 96.7 % for waste wood activated with 25 % phosphoric acid, which is higher than previous literature findings for phosphoric acid activation. The surface areas of the PAC were in the 1500-1900 m2g-1 range. Both pre and post activation impregnation of iron salts resulted in iron uptake. Pre-activation resulted in only iron(III) speciation while post-activation impregnation of iron(II)chloride did result in iron(II) forming on the PAC surface. The pre-activated impregnated PAC showed little to no adsorption of selenite and selenate. The post-activation impregnated iron(II)chloride removed up to 12.45 ± 0.025 mg selenium per g Iron-PAC. Competitive ions such as sulfate and nitrate had little effect on selenium adsorption. Phosphate concentration did affect the uptake. At 250 ppm approximately 75 % of adsorption capacity of both the selenate and the selenite solutions was lost, although selenium was still preferentially adsorbed. Peak adsorption occurred between a pH of 4 and 11, with a complete loss of adsorption at a pH of 13. Author Keywords: Activated Carbon, doping, Iron, phosphoric acid, selenium
Role of Dielectric Screening in SrTiO3-Based Interfaces
We build a theoretical model for exploring the electronic properties of the two-dimensional (2D) electron gas that forms at the interface between insulating SrTiO3 (STO) and a number of perovskite materials including LaTiO3, LaAlO3, and GdTiO3. The model treats conduction electrons within a tight-binding approximation, and the dielectric polarization via a Landau-Devonshire free energy that incorporates STO's strongly nonlinear, nonlocal, field-, and temperature-dependent dielectric response. We consider three models for the dielectric polarization at the interface: an ideal-interface model in which the interface has the same permittivity as the bulk, a dielectric dead-layer model in which the interface has permittivity lower that the bulk, and an interfacial-strain model in which the strain effects are included. The ideal-interface model band structure comprises a mix of quantum 2D states that are tightly bound to the interface, and quasi-three-dimensional (3D) states that extend hundreds of unit cells into the STO substrate. We find that there is a substantial shift of electrons away from the interface into the 3D tails as temperature is lowered from 300 K to 10 K. We speculate that the quasi-3D tails form the low- density high-mobility component of the interfacial electron gas that is widely inferred from magnetoresistance measurements. Multiple experiments have observed a sharp Lifshitz transition in the band structure of STO interfaces as a function of applied gate voltage. To understand this transition, we first propose a dielectric dead-layer model. It successfully predicts the Lifshitz transition at a critical charge density close to the measured one, but does not give a complete description for the transition. Second, we use an interfacial-strain model in which we consider the electrostrictive and flexoelectric coupling between the strain and polarization. This coupling generates a thin polarized layer whose direction reverses at a critical density. The transition occurs concomitantly with the polarization reversal. In addition, we find that the model captures the two main features of the transition: the transition from one occupied band to multiple occupied bands, and the abrupt change in the slope of lowest energy band with doping. Author Keywords:
Supercritical Water Chemistry
Supercritical water (SCW) exhibits unique properties that differentiates it from its low temperature behaviour. Hydrogen bonding is dramatically reduced, there is no phase boundary between liquid and gaseous states, heat capacity increases, and there is a drastic reduction of the dielectric constant. Efforts are underway for researchers to harness these properties in the applications of power generation and hazardous waste destruction. However, the extreme environment created by the high temperatures, pressures and oxidizing capabilities pose unique challenges in terms of corrosion not present in subcritical water systems. Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations have been used to obtain mass transport, hydration numbers and the influence on water structure of molecular oxygen, chloride, ammonia and iron (II) cations in corrosion crevices in an iron (II) hydroxide passivation layer. Solvation regimes marking the transitions of solvation based versus charge meditated processes were explored by locating the percolation thresholds of both physically and hydrogen bonded water clusters. A SCW flow through reactor was used to study hydrogen evolution rates over metal oxide surfaces, metal release rates and the kinetics for the oxidation of hydrogen gas by oxygen in SCW. Insights into corrosion phenomena are provided from the MD results as well as the experimental determination of flow reactor water and hydrogen chemistry. Author Keywords: Flow Studies, Molecular Dynamics, Supercritical Water
Real-space renormalization group approach to the Anderson model
Many of the most interesting electronic behaviours currently being studied are associated with strong correlations. In addition, many of these materials are disordered either intrinsically or due to doping. Solving interacting systems exactly is extremely computationally expensive, and approximate techniques developed for strongly correlated systems are not easily adapted to include disorder. As a non-interacting disordered model, it makes sense to consider the Anderson model as a first step in developing an approximate method of solution to the interacting and disordered Anderson-Hubbard model. Our renormalization group (RG) approach is modeled on that proposed by Johri and Bhatt [23]. We found an error in their work which we have corrected in our procedure. After testing the execution of the RG, we benchmarked the density of states and inverse participation ratio results against exact diagonalization. Our approach is significantly faster than exact diagonalization and is most accurate in the limit of strong disorder. Author Keywords: disorder, localization, real-space renormalization, strong correlations
silicon sol-gel approach to the development of forensic blood substitutes
The research and development of synthetic blood substitutes is a reported need within the forensic community. This work contributes to the growing body of knowledge in bloodstain pattern analysis by offering a materials science approach to designing, producing and testing synthetic forensic blood substitutes. A key deliverable from this research is the creation of a robust silicon-based material using the solution-gelation technique that has been validated for controlled passive drip and spatter simulation. The work investigates the physical properties (viscosity, surface tension and density) of forensic blood substitute formulations and describes the similarity in the spreading dynamics of the optimized material to whole human blood. It then explores how blood and other fluids behave in impact simulation using high-speed video analysis and supports the use of the optimized material for spatter simulation. Finally, the work highlights the practical value of the material as an educational tool for both basic and advanced bloodstain experimentation and training. Author Keywords: bloodstain pattern analysis, forensic blood substitutes, high-speed video analysis, silicon solution-gelation chemistry, thin-film deposition, training and education
Investigation of Using Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage in Adiabatic Compressed Air Energy Storage
There is an increasing global need for grid scale electrical energy storage to handle the implementation of intermittent renewable energy sources. Adiabatic compressed air energy storage is an emerging technology with similar performance to pumped hydro except it has the issue of heat loss during the compression stage. Previously, it has been considered to use sensible heat storage materials to store the heat created by compression in a thermal energy storage unit until energy is required, and then transfer the heat back to the air. This research proposes to instead use phase change materials to store the heat of compression, as this will reduce entropy generation and maximize roundtrip exergy efficiency. Different configurations and placements of the phase change materials are considered and exergy analyses are presented. The thermodynamic equations are derived and optimal setup conditions including amount of latent heat and melting temperatures are calculated. Author Keywords: Compressed Air Energy Storage, Energy Storage, Exergy, Phase Change Materials
Correlating density of states features with localization strength in disordered interacting systems
Johri and Bhatt found singular behavior near the band edge in the density of states as well as in the inverse participation ratio of the Anderson model. These singularities mark a transition to an energy range dominated by resonant states. We study the interacting case using an ensemble of two-site Anderson-Hubbard systems. We find the ensemble-averaged density of states and generalized inverse participation ratio have more structure than in the non-interacting case because there are more transitions and in particular the transitions depend on the ground state. Nonetheless, there are regions of sharp decline in the generalized inverse participation ratio associated with specific density of state features. Moreover these features move closer to the Fermi level with the addition of interactions making them more experimentally accessible. Unfortunately resonances unique to interacting systems cannot be specifically identified. Author Keywords: Correlated electrons, Disorder, Localization
Model for the Differential Susceptibility of Strontium Titanate
The appearance of a two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) in oxide interfaces between strontium titanate (STO) and other materials has become a major area of study. The behaviour of the 2DEG in STO is not well understood in part because the dielectric properties of STO are not well characterized. The differential susceptibility has a major impact on the electric fields within strontium titanate, and therefore to understand the 2DEG a better understanding of the susceptibility is needed. An expression for the soft mode phonon frequency of bulk strontium titanate is derived and used to model the susceptibility as a function of spatially homogeneous electric field, temperature and wavevector. This model is used to discuss the effect of spatially inhomogeneous electric fields and the local vs. nonlocal nature of the susceptibility. The critical exponents and the free energy are determined and discussed. Author Keywords: critical exponents, differential susceptibility, quantum paraelectric, strontium titanate
Synthesis of Lipid Based Polyols from 1-butene Metathesized Palm Oil for Use in Polyurethane Foam Applications
This thesis explores the use of 1-butene cross metathesized palm oil (PMTAG) as a feedstock for preparation of polyols which can be used to prepare rigid and flexible polyurethane foams. PMTAG is advantageous over its precursor feedstock, palm oil, for synthesizing polyols, especially for the preparation of rigid foams, because of the reduction of dangling chain effects associated with the omega unsaturated fatty acids. 1-butene cross metathesis results in shortening of the unsaturated fatty acid moieties, with approximately half of the unsaturated fatty acids assuming terminal double bonds. It was shown that the associated terminal OH groups introduced through epoxidation and hydroxylation result in rigid foams with a compressive strength approximately 2.5 times higher than that of rigid foams from palm and soybean oil polyols. Up to 1.5 times improvement in the compressive strength value of the rigid foams from the PMTAG polyol was further obtained following dry and/or solvent assisted fractionation of PMTAG in order to reduce the dangling chain effects associated with the saturated components of the PMTAG. Flexible foams with excellent recovery was achieved from the polyols of PMTAG and the high olein fraction of PMTAG indicating that these bio-derived polyurethane foams may be suitable for flexible foam applications. PMTAG polyols with controlled OH values prepared via an optimized green solvent free synthetic strategy provided flexible foams with lower compressive strength and higher recovery; i.e., better flexible foam potential compared to the PMTAG derived foams with non-controlled OH values. Overall, this study has revealed that the dangling chain issues of vegetable oils can be addressed in part using appropriate chemical and physical modification techniques such as cross metathesis and fractionation, respectively. In fact, the rigidity and the compressive strength of the polyurethane foams were in very close agreement with the percentage of terminal hydroxyl and OH value of the polyol. The results obtained from the study can be used to convert PMTAG like materials into industrially valuable materials. Author Keywords: Compressive Strength, Cross Metathesis, Fractionation, Polyols, Polyurethane Foams, Vegetable Oils
Novel Aliphatic Lipid-Based Diesters for use in Lubricant Formulations
Structure-property relationships are increasingly valued for the identification of specifically engineered materials with properties optimized for targeted application(s). In this work, linear and branched diesters for use in lubricant formulations are prepared from lipid-based oleochemicals and their structure-property relationships reported. It is shown that the branched diesters possess exceptional physical property profiles, including suppression of crystallization, and are superior alternatives for use in lubricant formulations. For the linear aliphatic diesters, both high and low temperature properties were predictable functions of total chain length, and both were differently influenced by the fatty acid versus diol chain length. Symmetry did not influence either, although thermal stability decreased and thermal transition temperatures increased with increasing saturation. All of the linear diesters demonstrated Newtonian flow behaviour. Viscosity was also predictable as a function of total chain length; any microstructural features due to structural effects were superseded by mass effects. Author Keywords: Crystallization, Phase behaviour, Rheology, Structure-Function, Thermogravimetric analysis, Vegetable Oils
Mitigating Cold Flow Problems of Biodiesel
The present thesis explores the cold flow properties of biodiesel and the effect of vegetable oil derived compounds on the crystallization path as well as the mechanisms at play at different stages and length scales. Model systems including triacylglycerol (TAG) oils and their derivatives, and a polymer were tested with biodiesel. The goal was to acquire the fundamental knowledge that would help design cold flow improver (CFI) additives that would address effectively and simultaneously the flow problems of biodiesel, particularly the cloud point (CP) and pour point (PP). The compounds were revealed to be fundamentally vegetable oil crystallization modifiers (VOCM) and the polymer was confirmed to be a pour point depressant (PPD). The results obtained with the VOCMs indicate that two cis-unsaturated moieties combined with a trans-/saturated fatty acid is a critical structural architecture for depressing the crystallization onset by a mechanism wherein while the straight chain promotes a first packing with the linear saturated FAMEs, the kinked moieties prevent further crystallization. The study of model binary systems made of a VOCM and a saturated FAME with DSC, XRD and PLM provided a complete phase diagram including the thermal transformation lines, crystal structure and microstructure that impact the phase composition along the different crystallization stages, and elicited the competing effects of molecular mass, chain length mismatch and isomerism. The liquid-solid boundary is discussed in light of a simple thermodynamic model based on the Hildebrand equation and pair interactions. In order to test for synergies, the PP and CP of a biodiesel (Soy1500) supplemented with several VOCM and PLMA binary cocktails were measured using a specially designed method inspired by ASTM standards. The results were impressive, the combination of additives depressed CP and PP better than any single additive. The PLM and DSC results suggest that the cocktail additives are most effective when the right molecular structure and optimal concentration are provided. The cocktail mixture achieves then tiny crystals that are prevented from aggregating for an extended temperature range. The results of the study can be directly used for the design of functional and economical CFI from vegetable oils and their derivatives. Author Keywords: Biodiesel, Microstructure, Polymorphism, Pour point depressants, Triacylglycerol, Vegetable Oil Based Crystal Modifier
Novel Functional Materials From Renewable Lipids
Vegetable oils represent an ideal and renewable feedstock for the synthesis of a variety of functional materials. However, without financial incentive or unique applications motivating a switch, commercial products continue to be manufactured from petrochemical resources. Two different families of high value, functional materials synthesized from vegetable oils were studied. These materials demonstrate superior and unique performance to comparable petrochemical analogues currently on the market. In the first approach, 3 amphiphilic thermoplastic polytriazoles with differing lipophilic segment lengths were synthesized in a polymerization process without solvents or catalysts. Investigation of monomer structure influence on the resultant functional behaviour of these polymers found distinctive odd/even behaviour reliant on the number of carbon atoms in the monomers. Higher concentrations of triazole groups, due to shorter CH2 chains in the monomeric dialkynes, resulted in more brittle polymers, displaying higher tensile strengths but reduced elongation to break characteristics. These polymers had similar properties to commercial petroleum derived thermoplastics. One polymer demonstrated self-assembled surface microstructuring, and displayed hydrophobic properties. Antimicrobial efficacy of the polymers were tested by applying concentrated bacterial solutions to the surfaces, and near complete inhibition was demonstrated after 4 hours. Scanning electron microscope images of killed bacteria showed extensive membrane damage, consistent with the observed impact of other amphiphilic compounds in literature. These polytriazoles are suited for applications in medical devices and implants, where major concerns over antibiotic resistance are prevalent. In the second approach, a series of symmetric, saturated diester phase change materials (PCMs) were also synthesized with superior latent heat values compared to commercial petrochemical analogues. These diesters exhibit melting temperatures between 39 °C and 77 °C, with latent heats greater than 220 J/g; much greater than paraffin waxes, which are currently the industry standard. Assessment of the trends between differing monomer lengths, in terms of number of CH2 groups of the 24 diesters synthesized exhibited structure/function dependencies in latent heat values and phase change temperatures, providing an understanding of the influence of each monomer on PCM thermal properties. A synthetic procedure was developed to produce these PCMs from a low value biodiesel feedstock. Application of these PCMs in the thermoregulation of hot beverages was demonstrated using a representative diester. This PCM cooled a freshly brewed hot beverage to a desired temperature within 1 minute, compared to 18 minutes required for the control. Furthermore, the PCM kept the beverage within the desired temperature range for 235 minutes, 40 % longer than the control. Author Keywords: Antimicrobial Surface, Click Chemistry, Green Chemistry, Phase Change Material, Polytriazole, Renewable

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