263011 Improving the Mechanical Properties of Activated Carbon Nanofiber Nonwovens
Activated Carbon Nanofiber Nonwovens (ACNFNs) have a wide range of potential applications because of their unique properties like high specific surface area and good electrical conductivity. Potential applications include use as adsorption media, electrodes in microbial fuel cells, tissue scaffolds, and many others. A critical aspect that hinders ACNFNs from being used more widely in these applications is their weak mechanical strength. The goal of this work is to improve the strength of ACNFNs, without sacrificing surface area and conductivity.
Several different methods of improving strength were explored. The methods of fabrication were examined, looking for areas where the process could be altered, yielding a material with greater strength. The fabrication of ACNFNs is a four-step process: electrospinning, stabilization, carbonization, and steam activation. Alternative polymers for electrospinning, effects of hot-stretching during pyrolysis, and varying carbonization and activation protocol were studied. Samples were tested for mechanical strength, carbon yield, and surface area.