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This is a green engineering project that targets the enablement of the production of a bio-nanocomposite. The bio-nanocomposite is to be composed of montmorillonite clay and a bio-modifier made from swine manure. Use of such bio-based modifier can help reduce worldwide reliance on shrinking petroleum reserves while reducing CO2 emissions associated with the manufacture of petroleum-based products and the uncontrolled bio-waste decay in landfills and open lagoons.

The hypothesis to be tested is that that montmorillonite clay can be exfoliated using an amide-enriched bio-modifier made from swine manure to produce organo-clay containing individual silica nano-platelets. While the exfoliated clay can be used in multiple applications, this project aims to evaluate sustainability and technical feasibility of producing bio-based nano composite for use as construction materials. Accordingly, a secondary hypothesis is that introduction of the aforementioned bio-based nanocomposite into construction materials for outdoor applications such as roofing, sealing, building facades, roads and drive ways will have enhanced resistance to oxidative aging due to clay nano-particles playing as air barrier as well as carrier for certain bio-molecules with anti-aging properties. Accordingly, the project will examine environmental aspects of such outdoor applications along with technical feasibility. To do so, special attention will be given to study quality and quantity of the emissions during processing of bio-based nano composites as well as leachates during their application. Therefore, resulting material will be evaluated in terms of both associated thermo-mechanical properties and environmental aspects.



National Science Foundation, Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems


February 2019 — August 2020