Author

Xinfeng Xie

Date of Award

12-2008

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Barry Goodell

Second Committee Member

Michael Peterson

Third Committee Member

Douglas Gardner

Abstract

The objective of this research was to produce structural carbon materials from wood, a renewable biomaterial, for advanced material application. A broad range of materials were produced for study including carbonized wood, resin infused carbon composites made from carbonized wood, and carbon nanotubes from wood fibers. The effect of slow heating on the properties of carbonized wood was studied and important carbonized wood properties were found to be produced over a range of heating rates and peak temperatures. Slow heating rates promoted the formation and growth of graphene sheets in turbostratic crystallites, which had a significant influence on the electrical resistivity and Young’s modulus of the carbonized wood. A reduction in the rate of heating may be beneficial with respect to carbon properties and the prevention of crack production during the manufacture of large monolithic carbon specimens from wood and wood-based materials. Investigation of selected physical and mechanical properties of resin-infused porous carbon composites made from medium density fiberboard demonstrated that the infused material can be used in specific applications, where high mechanical strength is not required but high dimensional stability at elevated-use temperatures, fire safety, or static dissipation and shielding is required. A unique cyclic heating process has been developed to produce carbon nanotubes directly from wood fibers. Study on the oxidative behavior of carbons derived from cellulose and lignin showed that cellulose carbon ablates faster at a lower temperature in air than lignin carbon when they were prepared at temperatures lower than 500 °C due to cellulose carbon’s lower content of aromatic structures. It is hypothesized that the formation of carbon nanotubes during the cyclic heating process occurred via template synthesis, with the nanochannels formed from the ablation of cellulose fibrils functioning as a template. Evidence of formation of nanochannels has been observed, but the growth mechanism of carbon nanotubes in this specific process must be further explored.

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