Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Degree Level



Chemical Engineering


Lauren Greenlee

Committee Member

David M. Ford

Second Committee Member

Chris S. Griggs

Third Committee Member

Bob Beitle

Fourth Committee Member

Jamie A. Hestekin


Carbon-based Composites, Carbon-based Membranes, Membrane Stability, Water Treatment


Carbonaceous materials such as graphene oxide, and activated ‎carbon have a wide range of ‎applications in water and wastewater treatment due to the high surface ‎area, unique structure, ‎and chemical and thermal stability. Carbon-based materials can be used as a ‎membrane, an ‎adsorbent, a support for nanomaterials, or ‎as a filler within membranes to remove contaminants ‎from water. In this research, the specific carbon materials and how their properties influence their ‎use and performance in ‎specific engineering applications is explored. ‎

Here, membrane filtration and adsorption/degradation of the water and wastewater using carbon-‎based material are investigated. The research firstly focuses on mixed-matrix polymeric ‎membranes containing chitosan as the matrix and graphene oxide as an additive to improve the ‎properties of the membranes. Two different sizes of graphene oxide ‎particles were added to a ‎chitosan matrix to improve the properties of a water filtration membrane. ‎The effect of graphene ‎oxide particle size on the morphology, structure, chemical composition, and ‎water filtration ‎performance was investigated. ‎

In addition, FeNi nanoparticle-carbon ‎composite materials are studied as a reactive treatment for ‎in situ groundwater remediation. The research includes the development of a specific synthesis ‎process for nickel-doped nanoscale zero valent iron (Ni-NZVI) ‎immobilization onto the carbon ‎support. ‎‏ ‏Then the new method was applied to make nanoparticle-carbon composites with five ‎different carbon types. ‎A variety of characterization were used to understand the relationship ‎between carbon properties and trichloroethylene (TCE) removal. The carbons only and the ‎composites were tested for TCE removal. The results suggested that the mechanism of TCE ‎removal by carbons is adsorption and is highly related to the carbon properties of surface area, ‎micro-pore volume, and functional groups on the surface. However, the mechanism of TCE ‎removal by composites was confirmed as a combination of adsorption and degradation. The ‎carbon properties did not affect TCE removal significantly when the carbon was used as a ‎support for the reactive nanoparticles (NPs). In addition, the effect of the Ni and carbon ratio on ‎TCE removal and Ni leaching was investigated. The Ni leaching was successfully decreased by ‎using composites with lower Ni:Fe ratios and higher carbon:Fe ratios.‎

Available for download on Wednesday, August 07, 2024