Under CCM's ACRES project, an interdisciplinary team is using soyoil to make affordable fiber-reinforced composite materials for high-volume commercial applications.

Current Active ACRES projects include (Click items for details):

  • Hydrogen Storage on Carbonized Chicken Feather Fibers
  • Adverse effects of fossil fuels on the environment such as global warming and climate changes have forced researchers to find more sustainable ways of obtaining energy. Fuel cell reaction that produces only water (H2O) from oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2) made them seriously consider H2 as an energy carrier. Due to its environment-friendly features and high energy potential, hydrogen can be an ideal energy carrier for the future.

    However, there are still serious problems in the production and storage of hydrogen. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2010 and 2015 hydrogen storage targets are quite challenging in terms of gravimetric capacity (6 wt% and 9 wt% respectively), volumetric capacity (45 and 81 grams H2 per L), storage cost ($4 and $2 per kWh respectively) and practical usage i.e., safety, short refueling time and long cycle life. Fulfilling these long term requirements through the use of high pressure vessels or liquid-hydrogen temperatures is challenging because of their low efficiency in terms of energy and cost. A promising method that has been proposed to store hydrogen close to ambient conditions is adsorption on solid materials.

    Chicken feather fibers (CFF), which are an agricultural waste, have great potential to become main hydrogen storage material because of their hollow structure and low cost. When 92% keratin1 chicken feathers are carbonized by controlled pyrolysis, it is observed that the hollow structure of the keratin fibers does not change. Their surface area increases by the formation of fractals and micropores and their mean pore diameter decreases down to 5 Ǻ thus enabling more hydrogen adsorption than raw (untreated) feather fibers.

    The main objectives of this project are investigating the details of the carbonization process of feather fibers and optimizing certain process parameters to increase the number of pores suitable for hydrogen adsorption. Additionally, characterizing carbonized chicken feather fibers (CCFF) by surface analysis techniques and modifying and decorating the surface for higher hydrogen storage capacities are also within the scope of these objectives. Hydrogen storage experiments are done by a custom built in the literature so called Sievert’s Apparatus.

    1 Farner, Donald S. et al. Avian Biology. vol 6. Academic Press, New York: 1982.

  • High Performance, Low Cost Carbon Fibers from Chicken Feathers
  • Development of New Dielectrics from Soybean Oli and Natural Fibers
  • Fatty Acid-Based Comonomer as Styrene Replacements for the Production of Triglyceride-Based Polymers
  • Polymers have uses in several fields, such as in aerospace, automotive, and many other applications. All the resins employed to produce polymers typically contain high concentration of a reactive diluents, such as styrene, to allow the resin to be molded using resin transfer molding. Styrene is a hazardous pollutant and a volatile organic compound. Therefore, non-volatile reactive diluents, such as fatty acids (FA), have become important. The focus of my work in the ACRES group is to produce a modified fatty acid that can be employed as a replacement of styrene in the production of unsaturated polyesters resins and triglyceride-based polymers.

  • Bio-based Rigid and Soft Foams
  • Polyurethanes (PU) foams are abundant and play an important role as thermal and sound insulators in many industries, such as shipbuilding, footwear, cars, sporting goods and many others. PU are prepared by the reaction of di- or poly-isocyanates with polyols. The other reaction that takes places in this system is that with the blowing agent (H2O), where the reaction between the isocyanate and water produces substituted urea and gaseous carbon dioxide, and therefore produce the PU foams. All the polyols employed in the production of PU come from petroleum. Therefore, the focus of my research is to synthesize bio-based polyurethane (PU) foams from vegetable oil. The use of this natural source has economic and environmental advantages that make them attractive alternatives to petroleum-based materials, such as being a renewable resource, environmentally friendly, biodegradable and also, can have low cost. We study the effect of various variables ( such as, reactivity of the SO-based polyol, amount of water added, curing temperature, type of catalyst employed, type of isocyanate, addition of surfactant and amount of water added to the mixture) on the foam.

Past ACRES projects include:

  • Carbon Nanotube Reenforced Composites from Soybean Oil
  • Self healing Materials from Soyoil and Carbon Nanotubes
  • Civil Infrastructure Materials
  • Resins with Optimal Fatty Acid Distributions
  • Light weight Rigid and Soft Composites from Hollow Fibers
  • Bio-based Elastomers and Rubber Composites
  • Composite Resin Development from Plant Oils
  • Pressure-Sensitive Adhesives from Soy Oil
  • Hurricane Resistant Housing (Natural Fibers and Soy Resins)
  • Bio-based Rigid and Soft Foams
  • Auto and Truck Parts from Light-weight Composites
  • Bio-based Coatings
  • Electronic Materials from Natural Hollow Fibers
  • Self healing Materials from Soyoil and Carbon Nanotubes
  • Soyoil-nanoclay Composites
  • Civil Infrastructure Materials
  • Resins with Optimal Fatty Acid Distributions
  • Polymer and Composite Interfaces
  • Carbon-nanotube Composites
  • Ballistic Armor from Soybeans
  • Soy Composites
  • Light weight Rigid and Soft Composites from Hollow Fibers
  • Bio-basd Furniture Materials

Led by Chemical Engineering Professor Richard P. Wool, this unique program taps into a variety of research fields including genetic engineering, composites manufacturing science, materials synthesis, mechanics, advanced materials characterization, and computer simulation. Several patent disclosures have already been filed on these novel new materials.