Research

Areas of Study

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Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, is a promising field of study with the potential to revolutionize polymer production. AM enables the design and engineering of adaptive, lightweight, and complex structures, parts, and on-demand tools. Different types of AM techniques exist, each with advantages suited to specific applications. The Sustainable Materials Research Laboratory currently focuses on the stereolithography apparatus (SLA) approach to create high-performance polymers and composites with speed and ease. We believe the benefits offered by 3D printing can be enhanced with the incorporation of advantageous structural properties of bio-derived resources.

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Chemical Processing

The Sustainable Materials Research Laboratory emphasizes the study of reaction kinetics to gain a better understanding of the chemistries used to manipulate bio-derived resources. This knowledge aids in the optimization of reaction yields, reaction selectivity, product purification, environmental safety, and process economics. Specifically, the synthetic transformation of bio-based building blocks into bisphenol-A (BPA) and methylenedianiline (MDA) replacements is a current focus of the group. The comparison of commercial catalysts and novel solid-acid catalysts provided by Dr. Iman Noshadi’s research group are compared to better understand the reaction kinetics.

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Energy Materials

With high economic demand for portable electronic devices and smaller, faster technologies, advanced energy storage is a critical technological concern. The Sustainable Materials Research Laboratory is developing high-performance energy materials by designing and synthesizing new polymers for use in batteries. Combining the desire for innovative uses for bio-derived monomers with the need for advanced battery materials is a way to promote an economically and environmentally beneficial progression of technology. Our current research focuses on improving the electrolytic polymer separators employed in secondary lithium-ion batteries, which entails refining the electrical, mechanical and thermal properties of the polymers, as well as increasing intrinsic safety and developing cost-effective and environmentally friendly production methods.

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Thermoplastics

Many polymers ubiquitous in modern society are derived from petroleum. In the last two decades, the increasing cost and pricing volatility of petroleum and the growing demand to protect the environment has shifted interest to deriving polymeric materials from renewable building blocks. Sustainable polymers can be designed and engineered using precursors extracted from nature. Among these, lignin has attracted much attention since it can be strategically depolymerized to yield useful phenolics.  The aim of this research area is to investigate the utilization of these compounds, in combination with other alternative co-monomers, to synthesize a variety of bio-based thermoplastics with tunable thermomechanical properties. Furthermore, the robust structure of our lignin-derived monomers can impart an added value to the final materials by affording polymers with outstanding physical properties and lower toxicity.

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Thermosets

Thermosetting polymers are versatile materials used in a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. They can be used in adhesives, coatings, composites, sealants, and laminates as well as stand alone high-performance polymers. The Sustainable Materials Research Laboratory applies the principles of green chemistry and engineering, chemical engineering, polymer chemistry, polymer physics, and polymer engineering to create novel thermosetting materials from bio-derived resources. It is our hypothesis that the inherent chemical structures provided by nature’s renewable feedstocks make them attractive for the production of sustainable materials.

Our Focus

The Sustainable Materials Research Laboratory at Rowan University focuses on the utilization of building blocks derived from biomass in the development of polymers, polymer additives and composites for a wide range of applications, including coatings, adhesives, sealants, high-performance polymers and composites, energy capture and storage, therapeutics and packaging. Our passion is to create newer, better and safer materials for industrial use, all while keeping green chemistry and engineering metrics in mind.

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Recent and Ongoing Investigations

ACS Macro Letters - July 2017

Effect of Methoxy Substituent Position on Thermal Properties and Solvent Resistance of Lignin-Inspired Poly(dimethoxyphenyl methacrylate)s Shu Wang, Alexander W. Bassett, George V. Wieber, Joseph F. Stanzione, III, and Thomas H. Epps, III http://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsmacrolett.7b00381

Macromolecular Chemistry & Physics - April 2017

Preparation and Characterization of Highly Bio?Based Epoxy Amine Thermosets Derived from Lignocellulosics Joseph R. Mauck, Santosh K. Yadav, Joshua M. Sadler, John J. La Scala, Giuseppe R. Palmese, Kevin M. Schmalbach, Joseph F. Stanzione III http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/macp.201700013/full

ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering - July 2016

Synthesis and Characterization of Bio-based Epoxy Resins Derived from Vanillyl Alcohol Eric D. Hernandez, Alexander W. Bassett, Joshua M. Sadler, John J. La Scala, and Joseph F. Stanzione, III http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b00835

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