Date of Award

Summer 8-19-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Interdisciplinary Program


Michael D. Mason

Second Committee Member

Douglas Bousfield

Third Committee Member

Ian Dickey

Additional Committee Members

Mehdi Tajvidi

Karissa Tilbury


In the 1980s and 1990s, there was an increased interest in developing single use devices (SUD) due to the rising concern of infection risk with the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. The intention of these devices is to be used for a single patient during a procedure and then be disposed of to decrease the risk of cross contamination. Compared to metal and glass, plastics have the advantage of versatility, cost effectiveness, and the requirement of less energy for production, which makes them an ideal material for SUDs. However, with the increase in more people going through the health system, there has been an increase in the waste generated. Plastic based SUDs make up 15-25 % of the hospital waste generated that either gets tossed into a landfill or incinerated. Polyurethanes and polystyrenes are some of the more commonly used materials for SUDs, however these petroleum-based plastics are difficult to recycle, nonbiodegradable and can break down into microplastics and remain in the environment for several years. From this, there is a need for a biopolymer that can be used for SUDs that is biodegradable and sustainable. Cellulose based materials for use in biomedical applications has been gaining interest over the past decade. Cellulose based foams have been produced using several different methods such as freeze drying, 3D printing and through use of blowing agents. However, these methods have their limitations such as scalability or the use of additives having negative implications on the environment. One method that has not been fully explored for cellulosic materials is microwave heating. This method has several advantages such as energy efficiency, rapid heating, generation of micro or macro sized pores and is already used industrially. In this study, the use of microwave heating to produce cellulose-based foams will be investigated. For this, the effect of varying power intensities of a microwave on the water removal rate, resulting mass fraction and pore formation will be observed. The use of two secondary drying methods of freeze drying and solvent exchange post-microwave will be compared. Lastly, foam materials made by microwave heating will be used in two potential biomedical applications that use single use devices.