Biochar is a major by-product from pyrolysis and gasification of biomass. Biochar finds potential applications in soil amendment, carbon sequestration, super capacitors, adsorbents, etc. However, its applicability is limited by its properties such as low carbon content, low porosity, and surface area. Ongoing research on biochar explores thermal and chemical treatment to utilize the biochar in an effective way. This study focuses on converting the biochar to graphene-like thin films using a wet chemical process. Graphene is known for its potential applications as nanocomposites, electronic circuits, solar cells, and many other fields including medical, chemical, and industrial processes. The biochar prepared will be subjected to a pretreatment process, first oxidizing and subsequently reducing the strongly oxidized material. Although there are a few studies that concentrated on converting black carbon to graphene or graphene-like films, the carbon content of the starting materials used in those studies was about 99 percent. The carbon content of the biochar ranges from 50 percent to 85 percent. Thus, it is more challenging to convert them to high-quality graphene-like films. At each stage of the conversion process the reactants, products, and the by-products will be characterized by appropriate techniques. The study will explore the potential applications of the synthesized graphene.
Sriram Chandrasekaran is a PhD candidate in Biophysics and Computational Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is developing new systems biology approaches for analyzing gene regulatory and metabolic networks with Dr. Nathan Price at ISB. He has applied these approaches to study gene expression changes in the brain, and for identifying drug targets for microbial infections like Tuberculosis.
Sriram earned a Bachelor of Technology degree in Biotechnology from Anna University (First Class with Distinction) in 2008. He is also a recipient of the 2011 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Predoctoral Fellowship and a finalist for the 2012 Lemelson-MIT Illinois Student Award for innovation
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