Developing carbon nanoparticles with tunable morphology and surface chemistry for use in construction

Sidharth Reddy Karnati, Bjarke Høgsaa, Lifeng Zhang, Ellie H. Fini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study introduces novel methods for producing carbon nanoparticles from bio-oils made through hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass. It further compares physiochemical properties of carbon nanoparticles obtained from each method. First method uses heat-treatment up to 800 °C under nitrogen blanket; the second method is Vacuum Freeze-Drying. Here, we characterize physiochemical and surface properties of above two carbon nanoparticles using scanning electron microscope (SEM), energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering (DLS), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), and Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area analysis. The study results showed that carbon nanoparticles produced through the first method are nonpolar and hydrophobic with 88% carbon and particle size of 310–430 nm. The carbon nanoparticles obtained through the second method found to be highly polar and hydrophilic with carbon content of 42% and particles ranging from 250 to 310 nm. The hydrophobic nature of the former scenario makes it a promising candidate for use in asphalt to enhance its performance and aging resistance. The hydrophilic nature of the latter scenario makes it a promising candidate for partial replacement of cement in concrete. Its hydrophilic nature is attributed to the high oxygen to carbon ratio giving rise to its water retention capacity which in turn promotes internal curing of concrete. Carbon nanoparticles produced from bio-oils open a new research field to enhance performance and durability in construction while sequestering carbon and promoting circular economy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120780
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
StatePublished - Nov 30 2020


  • Carbon nanoparticle
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Hydrophilic
  • Hydrophobic
  • Vacuum freeze-drying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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