Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Zhang, Jilei

Committee Member

Zhang, Xuefeng

Committee Member

Kim, Yunsang

Committee Member

Mlsna, Todd

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Sustainable Bioproducts


Utilizing biomass such as lignin, bamboo, soybean, corn stalk, rice husk, etc., as a carbon source to produce graphene-based nanomaterials has been reported recently. However, the potential of using such nanomaterials for engineering and environmental applications has not been realized. This dissertation investigates the use of graphene-based nanomaterials synthesized from using biomass as a carbon source for water remediation and cement-based composites’ (CBCs) property enhancement.

The first chapter introduces graphene and graphene-based nanomaterials, as well as the synthesis and application of graphene-based nanomaterials for removing heavy metals in an aqueous solution and for property enhancement in CBCs. The experimental investigation on the pyrolytic synthesis of graphene-encapsulated iron nanoparticles from biochar (BC) as the carbon source (BC-G@Fe0) was covered in the second chapter. Two synthetic routes for producing BC-G@Fe0, i.e., impregnation-carbonization (route-I) and pyrolysis-impregnation-carbonization (route-II) processes, were investigated experimentally using different characterization techniques and heavy metal removal methods. The third chapter reports the experimental performances of the heavy metal removal of Pb2+, Cu2+, and Ag+ from an aqueous solution using BC-G@Fe0. The effectivenesses of various adsorption benchmarks, such as pH, kinetics, and isotherms were assessed. Additionally, the removal efficiency of BC-G@Fe0 was evaluated. BC-G@Fe0 sample made from route II, in particular, FeCl2-impregnated-BC with 15% wt% iron loading carbonized at 1000 ℃ for 1h showed promising Pb2+, Cu2+, and Ag+ removal capacities of 0.30, 1.58, and 1.91 mmol/g, respectively. The fourth chapter experimentally investigated the reinforcement effect of commercially sourced, industrial graphene nanoplates (IG) on the mechanical properties of CBCs. This investigation was based on a hypothesis that the uniform dispersion of IG would significantly enhance the compressive strength of CBC. The main outcome of this research was that, while the wet dispersion mixing process of IG into CBC did not consistently yield significant increases in the composite compressive strength, but the newly proposed dry dispersion process demonstrated significant increases (22%) in the composite compressive strength. Chapter Five investigated the synthesis of lignin-based graphene nanoplatelets (LG) and their application in CBC reinforcement. The main findings were that LG did not show impressive increases compared to IG, even when dry dispersion was introduced. This was attributed to LG's lack of effective surface area compared to IG. Finally, a general conclusion and outlook for the future of research into biomass-based graphene nanomaterials were discussed in chapter six.

Available for download on Thursday, May 15, 2025