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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. Biocomposites have become more mainstream over the past decades for preserving the environment and producing sustainable materials as a potential substitute to synthetic polymer based composites derived from scarce petroleum materials. However, it is essential to investigate their mechanical, thermal and fire retardancy performance to answer the question of their suitability in automobile, biomedical, construction, film packaging, and commercial industries. In this work, we have studied one such promising biocomposites, jute fiber/poly (3-hydroxy-butyrate-co-3-valerate) (PHBV) and investigated their aforementioned properties. At first, 3–15 wt% halloysite nanotubes (HNTs) were dispersed in PHBV/chloroform mixture using an ultrasound process. PHBV/HNTs thin films were then prepared using the solvent casting method. Finally, jute fiber/PHBV-HNTs bionanocomposites were prepared using the compression mold method. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) tests were performed to study the thermal and fire retardancy properties. Uniaxial tensile and flexure tests were also performed to investigate the mechanical properties. In addition, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was carried out to analyze the fracture surfaces of flexure tested samples. Results of jute/PHBV composites showed a significant increase in thermal and mechanical properties at 5 wt% HNTs loading in comparison to neat composites (without HNTs). In contrast, the composites with 15 wt% loading showed superior firemore »retardancy. SEM images of flexure tested samples showed enhanced interfacial bonding and less fiber pullout when compared to neat counterparts.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 14, 2023
  3. Semi-crystalline carbon biochar is derived from spent coffee grounds (SCG) by a controlled pyrolysis process at high temperature/pressure conditions. Obtained biochar is characterized using XRD, SEM, and TEM techniques. Biochar particles are in the micrometer range with nanostructured morphologies. The SCG biochar thus produced is used as reinforcement in epoxy resin to 3 D print samples using the direct-write (DW) method with 1 and 3 wt. % loadings. Rheology results show that the addition of biochar makes resin viscous, enabling it to be stable soon after print; however, it could also lead to clogging of resin in printer head. The printed samples are characterized for chemical, thermal and mechanical properties using FTIR, TGA, DMA and flexure tests. Storage modulus improved with 1 wt. % biochar addition up to 27.5% and flexural modulus and strength increased up to 55.55% and 43.30% respectively. However, with higher loading of 3 wt. % both viscoelastic and flexural properties of 3D printed samples drastically reduced thus undermining the feasibility of 3D printing biochar reinforced epoxies at higher loadings.
  4. Abstract

    Forcespinning technique was used to fabricate sub-micron size polycaprolactone (PCL) fibers. Forcespinning method uses centrifugal forces for the generation of fibers unlike the electrospinning method which uses electrostatic force. PCL has been extensively used as scaffolds for cell regeneration, substrates for tissue engineering and in drug delivery systems. The aim of this study is to qualitatively analyze the force spun fiber mats and investigate the effect of the spinneret rotational speed on the fiber morphology, thermal and mechanical properties. The extracted fibers were characterized by scanning electron microscopy differential scanning calorimetry, tensile testing and dynamic mechanical analysis. The results showed that higher rotational speeds produced uniform fibers with less number of beads. The crystallinity of the fibers decreased with increase in rotational speeds. The Young’s modulus of the forcespun fibers was found to be in the range of 3.5 to 6 MPa. Storage and loss moduli decreased with the increase in the fiber diameter. The fibers collected at farther distance from spinneret exhibited optimal mechanical properties compared to the fibers collected at shorter distances. This study will aid in extracting fibers with uniform geometries and lower beads to achieve the desired nanofiber drug release properties.

  5. Background:: Sandwich structures are progressively being used in various engineering applications due to the superior bending-stiffness-to-weight ratio of these structures. We adapted a novel technique to incorporate carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxanes (POSS) into a sandwich composite structure utilizing a sonochemical and high temperature vacuum assisted resin transfer molding technique. Objective:: The objective of this work was to create a sandwich composite structure comprised of a nanophased foam core and reinforced nanophased face sheets, and to examine the thermal and mechanical properties of the structure. To prepare sandwich structure, POSS nanoparticles were sonochemically attached to CNTs and dispersed in a high temperature resin system to make the face sheet materials and also coated on expandable thermoplastic microspheres for the fabrication of foam core materials. Method:: The nanophased foam core was fabricated with POSS infused thermoplastic microspheres (Expancel) using a Tetrahedron MTP-14 programmable compression molder. The reinforced nanophased face sheet were fabricated by infusing POSS coated CNT in epoxy resin and then curing into a compression stainless steel mold. Result:: Thermal analysis of POSS-infused thermoplastic microspheres foam (TMF) showed an increase in thermal stability in both nitrogen and oxygen atmospheres, 19% increase in thermal residue were observed for 4more »wt% GI-POSS TMF compared to neat TMF. Quasi-static compression results indicated significant increases (73%) in compressive modulus, and an increase (5%) in compressive strength for the 1 wt% EC-POSS/CNTs resin system. The nanophased sandwich structure constructed from the above resin system and the foam core system displayed an increase (9%) in modulus over the neat sandwich structure. Conclusion:: The incorporation of POSS-nanofillier in the foam core and POSS-coated nanotubes in the face sheet significantly improved the thermal and mechanical properties of sandwich structure. Furthermore, the sandwich structure that was constructed from nanophased resin system showed an increase in modulus, with buckling in the foam core but no visible cracking.« less