Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Automotive Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Srikanth Pilla

Committee Member

Dr. James Sternberg

Committee Member

Dr. Craig Clemons

Committee Member

Dr. Morteza Sabet

Committee Member

Dr. Hongseok Choi


The automotive industry has been actively pursuing lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles to address rising emissions and challenges associated with global warming. Polymers such as polyamides, polyolefins, and polyesters play a crucial role in reducing the weight of structural components while maintaining required safety standards. However, this transition has inadvertently made the automotive sector one of the largest contributors to plastic waste generation. Plastic waste presents a significant challenge due to its chemically inert nature, leading to its persistence in the environment and the leaching of toxic chemicals over hundreds of years. Scientists and lawmakers have been tackling this issue through research and policy initiatives. Additionally, the source of these polymers has come under scrutiny due to depleting petroleum reserves and growing health hazards associated with the chemicals used in their synthesis. To address these concerns, researchers have explored sustainably sourced feedstocks for polymer synthesis and composite fillers. One promising feedstock is lignocellulosic biomass, which consists of lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose. By carefully modifying these feedstocks chemically, it is possible to obtain high-value fillers and polymeric materials. This research focuses on utilizing biobased feedstocks, like cellulose for polymer filler applications, and specifically lignin extracted directly from wood, as a precursor for polyamides and polyesters. The study centers on functionalizing lignin to create polymer precursors and modifying cellulose to generate fillers for composites. The resulting polymers and composites are then subjected to thermal, chemical, viscoelastic and morphological testing, allowing for a comparison with commercially available counterparts. Central to this work is the integration of green chemistry principles at every stage of the chemical process, aiming for a sustainable future in polymer synthesis. By adopting this approach, iii the research seeks to contribute towards a more environmentally friendly and responsible automotive industry.

Author ORCID Identifier




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