Rice team turns pyrolyzed ash into graphene

Researchers at Jamed Tour's lab at Rice University have developed a new process, able to convert worthless pyrolyzed plastic ash into graphene. The technique produces turbostratic graphene flakes that can be directly added to other substances like films of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) that better resist water in packaging and cement paste and concrete, dramatically increasing their compressive strength.

Converting plastic waste pyrolysis ash into flash graphene image

Similarly to the flash graphene process the Tour lab introduced before, pyrolyzed ash turns into turbostratic graphene. That has weaker attractive interactions between the flakes, making it easier to mix them into solutions.

Rice University scientists modify "flash graphene" technique with a special focus on plastic

Rice University's process to produce pristine graphene in bulk from waste (dubbed “flash graphene”) was recently modified for recycling plastic. Instead of raising the temperature of a carbon source with direct current, as in the original process, the lab first exposes plastic waste to around eight seconds of high-intensity alternating current, followed by the DC jolt.

Flash graphene made from plastic by a Rice University lab imagePost-consumer plastic received from a recycler is then mixed with carbon black and processed into turbostratic graphene via timed pulses of AC and DC electricity. Image by the Tour Group

The products are high-quality turbostratic graphene, a valuable and soluble substance that can be used to enhance electronics, composites, concrete and other materials, and carbon oligomers, molecules that can be vented away from the graphene for use in other applications.

Mapping crystal shapes could fast-track mass production of 2D materials

Materials scientists at Rice University and the University of Pennsylvania have published an article calling for a collective, global effort to fast-track the mass production of 2D materials like graphene and molybdenum disulfide.

Learning from the Nakaya diagram could further 2D materials production image

In their perspective article, journal editor-in-chief Jun Lou and colleagues make a case for a focused, collective effort to address the research challenges that could clear the way for large-scale mass production of 2D materials.

Rice University team aims to improve wastewater treatment using nanospheres wrapped in graphene oxide

Researchers at Rice University design a "shield" made of graphene oxide, that helps particles destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria and free-floating antibiotic resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants.

 A shield of graphene helps particles destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria and free-floating antibiotic resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants image

The labs of Rice environmental scientist Pedro Alvarez and Yalei Zhang, a professor of environmental engineering at Tongji University, Shanghai, introduced these microspheres wrapped in graphene oxide. Alvarez and his partners in the Rice-based Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) have worked toward quenching antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" since first finding them in wastewater treatment plants in 2013.