Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Automotive Engineering

Committee Member

Srikanth Pilla, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Fadi Abu-farha

Committee Member

Craig Clemons

Committee Member

Mark Hoffman

Committee Member

Annel Greene


Extensive research has been undertaken in recent times on finding suitable, alternative, non-feed and non-fertilizer applications for proteinaceous materials in the animal rendering industry. In this regard, use of such proteins to derive plastics, especially thermoplastics and derived composites, has emerged as a potentially acceptable choice. However, the widespread use of such proteins for aforementioned applications is limited by their poor mechanical properties, high moisture absorption and their inherent odor. In this study, we have engineered, for the first time, high-strength, toughened thermoset polymers from proteinaceous materials obtained from the rendering industry so that they can be employed in high performance applications, such as in the automotive sector. However, the lack of compatibility between protein molecules and organic resins could not be ignored. Hence, in this study, we have also solved this problem by utilizing waterborne polyurethane as resins to react with protein molecules and form covalent-bonded interconnected hybrid polymers. To overcome the lack of compatibility, water soluble epoxy resin was also studied to crosslink with animal protein molecules.

Recycling of epoxy resin-based composites has widely gained attention among researchers and environmentalists as the major waste processing method for such composites is landfilling, which requires large areas of waste land. While alternative recycling pathways such as mechanical, pyrolysis and fluidized bed have been achieved, all such pathways have either been undertaken at a small scale, are highly energy-intensive, or are detrimental to the environment through other means. Here, we present a new self-healing, repairable, and recyclable epoxy matrix with extendable usage time as well as increased life cycles. Moreover, urethane chain was introduced into the epoxy matrix as it helped achieve tunable, varying mechanical properties, with the copolymer possessing properties of both polyurethane and epoxy.

To understand the art of molecule architecture, an easy method to prepare graphitic material from synthesized polymer was described in this study. Polyazomethine was synthesized, activated at high temperature, referred to as nitrogen-doped carbon (NC) materials, and then used to purify water. TGA results directed the choice of annealing temperature. Raman spectra confirmed that the material was indeed graphite-similar, showing G and D bands at 1584 cm-1 and 1337 cm-1 respectively. Adsorption experiments and BET surface area measurements revealed that temperature of 750°C or higher was efficient for annealing the material.



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