My Ph.D. thesis work involved developing a cellulose nanocomposite, ‘green’, natural based, high strength material that will serve as the next generation of structural materials. Because of the bio-based and biodegradable nature of cellulose nanocomposite, it is an attractive ‘green’ alternative for use in the automotive, aerospace, and construction sectors, as well as sports equipment and other engineering applications. Thus, US companies have led the world in using these high properties, low weight and environmental friendly materials exceedingly at the industry level. Growing environmental awareness around the world has enhanced interest in the use of environmentally benign materials in engineering. Since the 1990s, natural composites have emerged as an alternative to synthetic composites such as carbon and glass fiber composites. Natural fiber composites, such as those made from cellulose, hemp, jute and flax have become particularly attractive in the automotive industries because of their lower cost and lower density, which leads to production of lower-weight components. Other advantages of natural fiber composite over traditional composites are economic viability, reduced tool wear during machining operations, enhanced energy recovery, reduced dermal and respiratory irritation, and biodegradability (these advantages have been validated through several lifecycle assessment studies conducted with these materials). My research has focused primarily on design, process, characterization and scalability of cellulose nanocomposite using experimental and numerical simulations.
In the area of experimental and numerical flow modeling in porous and regular media, I worked on various well known numerical methods and validated those using self-designed experimental setups. My research involved developing a novel numerical model to predict flow of Newtonian and non-Newtonian liquids inside porous media using actual micrographs as a working model. Through using numerical simulation, we can simulate and predict flow, temperature and pressure distribution inside the various types of medium which are used to estimate essential properties including permeability, absorption and dispersion in swelling and non-swelling materials. By using experimental methods, we would be able to confirm and validate the results obtained by numerical simulations. The numerical and experimental investigations are highly used in industries such as, manufacturing synthetic and natural fibers, superabsorbent materials, mold filling and composite processing.