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Structure-property relationships in lignin-based porous carbon materials for water purification

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Good water quality is essential to human health, social and economic development, as well as the ecosystem. Industrialization and urbanization, together with the explosive population growth, have caused a great challenge for maintaining safe and clean water resources. Among many strategic and research activities for water protection, a direct approach is to develop biobased porous materials as filters to adsorb the hazardous components in the wastewater.  In this project, we aim to unravel the structure-property relationship of lignin-based biocarbon for the applications of water purification, especially for heavy metals and PFAS. To compare lignin-based carbons made from both hardwood and softwood and with different surface modifications, we will exploit advanced X-ray techniques at synchrotron radiation facilities for structural and chemical characterization, especially during real-time water purification. The generated a large amount of characterization data will be handled via machine-learning-based analysis algorithms for improved 3D modeling and better statistic correlation between the structure and properties for water purification. With great ambition, we hope that the project will eventually help us predict parameters to produce the “super” absorbing biocarbon made from lignin.

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