Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Liu, Jia


Over the last several decades, there have been a tremendous developments and greatinnovations in photocatalysis process along with the development of efficient nanosized catalysts for simple approach and economic viability. In this study, magnetic core@doubleshell nanomaterials were investigated and synthesized in lab with three-step innovative approach where Fe3O4 nanoparticles (NPs) were produced first to act as cores without using any surfactants. The magnetite/silica core–shell structure was then prepared by hydrolysis of tetraethoxysilane (TEOS) in the presence of core particles under alkaline conditions. And the outermost shell, the α-Fe2O3/TiO2 nanoparticles, were grown over magnetic core of Fe3O4@SiO2 using coprecipitation and calcination method. Furthermore, the Fe3O4@SiO2@α-Fe2O3/TiO2 NPs were then loaded on the reduced graphene oxide (r-GO) using hydrothermal method and are also mixed by kneading with the layered double hydroxides (LDH) of Mg2+ and Al3+. These nanoparticles were characterized with scanning electron microscope (SEM), transmission electron microscope (TEM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). Different model compounds like microcrystalline cellulose (90 μm), D-xylose, and sodium lignosulfonate representing cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, respectively, were converted to valuable chemicals with different NPs under visible light for different time periods. For example, valeric acid (VA) and vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) were produced when cellulose was used for the conversion with core-double shell NPS which were quantified using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Similar approach was adopted for the conversion of brewers’ spent grain (BSG), a lignocellulosic biomass, without oxygen under visible light, which yielded ethanol as the main product along with other sugars and acids of very low concentrations. The magnetic property of the nanomaterials made it easy for recycle and reuse. From a sustainability point of view, this study will fill a large need in the biomass photocatalysis field by developing core-shell multi-functional photocatalysts for direct transformation of lignocellulose into valuable chemicals under low temperatures, atmospheric pressure, and visible light from the sun.




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