Specific and non-specific interactions on carbon material surfaces

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

The interactions which occur between both polar and non-polar fluid phases and surfaces of various carbon materials: Activated Carbon (AC), non-porous Carbon Black (CB) and Multiwall Carbon Nanotubes (MWCNTs)with different surface chemistry have been studied. These are currently of great interest as they govern the interfacial behaviour of carbons in a wide range of applications; separation and composite technologies being two prime examples. Consequently, techniques for chemical modification of carbon surfaces are also of interest. Surface oxygen functional groups have been introduced, or modified, using the following oxidation techniques: liquid-phase oxidation (both AC and CB), Fenton and Birch reduction treatment (MWCNTs) and in a more controlled manner using gas-phase ozone treatment (CB). The chemistry of all the resulting carbon surfaces were characterised using X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), which gives a quick and direct quantitative measure of the external surface composition. This technique, which has not yet been extensively employed in detailed adsorption studies, is a promising alternative to Temperature Programmed Desorption (TPD) and Boehm titration method in the determination of oxygen and other surface groups. Physical effects of the various surface modifications have been studied using a variety of techniques appropriate for the material in question. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) images show some deteriorating effects of the liquid-phase oxidations on the structure of both activated carbon and carbon black materials. Conversely, surface areas from nitrogen adsorption at 77oK, coupled with immersion calorimetry data for toluene, show that the physical structure of the carbon blacks is not modified by ozone treatment. This has allowed a detailed study of the effects of surface oxygen level (i.e. polarity) on vapour adsorption. Regarding the MWCNT materials, detailed High-Resolution Electron Microscopy (HRTEM) photographs show that the multi-wall structure of the nanotubes in not significantly disrupted during the introduction of active functional groups by the Fenton or Birch treatment and therefore keeping intact their mechanical properties which augurs well for their use as reinforcement in composite structures whilst also improving their dispersion properties in polar fluids. A systematic shift to higher adsorption values, due to the increasing specific interactions between the alcohol -OH groups and the surface oxygen groups, is observed in all the isotherms of alcohols from the CB series as the total surface oxygen concentration ([O]T) increases. Moreover, this effect was observed to be most significant for methanol confirming that the mechanism of adsorption is dominated by hydrogen bonding and therefore dependant on the surface concentration of oxygen sites; whereas it becomes less marked in the case of ethanol and isopropanol respectively due to the increasing non-specific, dispersion, interactions of the alkyl chain with the non-polar carbon surface. Overall correlations were observed between the surface oxygen concentration [O]T, the resulting enthalpy of immersion -^Hi values and the characteristic energy E of the Dubinin-Radushkevich-Kaganer (DRK) equation obtained for toluene and these alcohols and the influence of the carbon surface chemistry on the character of the adsorption isotherms is also discussed. This behaviour is also observed and much more pronounced in the case of water adsorption on other oxidised carbon materials (AC, CB and MWCNT) due to the higher polarity of water molecules. The water adsorption data were analysed using in particular the Dubinin-Serpinsky (DS) equation and also some of its recent variations such as Barton and D'Arcy & Watt equations. The DS2 and various Barton equations were found to fit best the AC and CB materials modified by liquid-phase oxidations and also for the CB 03 series with increasing level of oxidation while both D'Arcy & Watt equations gave the best fittings for the MWCNTs materials. It was also shown that the resulting parameters ao (for the DS equation) describing the surface concentration of primary polar adsorption sites and as the limiting water adsorption value were both linked to the surface oxygen level [O]T. Regarding interfacial bonding, the oxidised CB and MWCNT materials are expected to show an improved physicochemical wetting of their surfaces by various resin compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Robert Gordon University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Bradley, Bob, Supervisor, External person
  • Davidson, Marcus, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010

Keywords

  • carbon black
  • activated carbon
  • multiwall carbon nanotubes
  • adsorption
  • immersion
  • calorimetry
  • x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
  • ozone modification
  • surface chemistry
  • dispersion and polar interactions

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