Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


We present preliminary experiments leading to novel additive manufacturing of carbides using a biopolymer-metal oxide composite as the precursor material. Renewable biopolymers replace petroleum-based ones as carbon source; and the temperature needed for carbide formation is drastically reduced due the colloidal proximity of the reactants. Additive manufacturing of a precursor gel composite could enable complex shapes, especially those currently challenging for powder pressing or machining of bulk carbides. To this end, we characterized water-based gels featuring iota-carrageenan (IC) as matrix; cellulose or chitin as fillers; and silica nanoparticles. Composite synthesis featured addition of a mixture of iota-carrageenan and chitin or cellulose to a silica nanoparticle dispersion. . Different 3D shapes were made with the composites by manual extrusion using a syringe. After heat treatment at 1300 °C in a nitrogen environment, carbonaceous 3D shapes were obtained. SEM-EDX, BET and XRD analysis were performed on the carbonaceous samples towards characterizing their composition and geometry. These results reveal a highly porous and amorphous material. Ongoing work is optimizing the heat treatment protocol and implementing a linear motion stage to enable additive manufacturing.