Special Issue "Design, Processing, and Characterization of Functional, Smart and Sustainable Materials: Recent Advances"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Chemical Engineering and Technology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Monday U. Okoronkwo
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409, USA
Interests: chemistry of materials for sustainable infrastructure, energy, and environment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The continuous scientific research efforts toward improving the standard of living—while maintaining a sustainable planet—have led to momentous advances in the development of functional, smart, and sustainable materials for various infrastructure applications in the fields of electronics, medicine, optics, nanotechnology, energy, ecology, robotics that cover all aspects of life. This Special Issue is intended to pull together the various advances and technologies in the multidisciplinary areas of design, synthesis, and characterization of functional materials, with sustainability in focus. Original research articles, case studies, technical reports, short communications, and reviews covering all different aspects of functional materials, including inorganic and organic, hybrid and composites, nanomaterials and polymers, soft matter and interfaces, are all welcome. Articles selected for this Special Issue are subject to a rigorous peer review procedure, with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination.

The covered topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Civil infrastructure materials (e.g., bio-inspired concretes, smart concretes, safe-healing concretes, and corrosion-resistant concretes);
  • Electronic and photovoltaics, and thermoelectric, optical, and magnetic materials (including sensors, dielectrics, pyroelectrics, piezoelectrics, ferroelectrics, semiconductors, ionic conductors, superconductors, and electro-optics);
  • Biomaterials, nanomaterials, and polymers (e.g., polymers for controlled drug delivery);
  • Carbon-based nanosorbents (e.g., carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene);
  • Ceramics, microporous, hybrids, and composite materials (including zeolite- and metal oxide-based adsorbents, and nanohybrid membranes);
  • Materials for space technology, etc.

Dr. Monday U. Okoronkwo
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • functional materials
  • sustainable materials
  • materials science
  • nanotechnology
  • polymers
  • semiconductors
  • sensors
  • smart concrete
  • ceramics and porous materials
  • biomaterials
  • magnetic materials
  • thin films
  • colloids
  • hybrid and composite materials
  • energy materials
  • nanoadsorbents
  • membrane technology

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Bacterial Flagellum versus Carbon Nanotube: A Review Article on the Potential of Bacterial Flagellum as a Sustainable and Green Substance for the Synthesis of Nanotubes
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010021 - 22 Dec 2020
Viewed by 357
Abstract
Bacterial flagella are complex multicomponent structures that help in cell locomotion. It is composed of three major structural components: the hook, the filament and basal body. The special mechanical properties of flagellar components make them useful for the applications in nanotechnology especially in [...] Read more.
Bacterial flagella are complex multicomponent structures that help in cell locomotion. It is composed of three major structural components: the hook, the filament and basal body. The special mechanical properties of flagellar components make them useful for the applications in nanotechnology especially in nanotube formation. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are nanometer scale tube-shaped material and it is very useful in many applications. However, the production of CNTs is costly and detrimental to the environment as it pollutes the environment. Therefore, bacterial flagella have become a highly interesting research area especially in producing bacterial nanotubes that could replace CNTs. In this review article, we will discuss about bacterial flagellum and carbon nanotubes in the context of their types and applications. Then, we will focus and review on the characteristics of bacterial flagellum in comparison to carbon nanotubes and subsequently, the advantages of bacterial flagellum as nanotubes in comparison with carbon nanotubes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Green Technology Approach for Reinforcement of Calcium Chloride Cured Sodium Alginate Films by Isolated Bacteria from Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME)
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9468; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229468 - 13 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 323
Abstract
The suitability of bacteria application as fillers to reinforce calcium chloride cured sodium alginate film was investigated through the determination of the physical, morphological and mechanical properties of composite films. There were six species of bacteria isolated from palm oil mill effluent sample. [...] Read more.
The suitability of bacteria application as fillers to reinforce calcium chloride cured sodium alginate film was investigated through the determination of the physical, morphological and mechanical properties of composite films. There were six species of bacteria isolated from palm oil mill effluent sample. The bacteria sample selected for filler reinforcement has a sub-micron diameter of 0.83 ± 0.13 µm. The growth curve of selected bacteria revealed that four days of broth culture produced the maximum bacteria mass. The composite films were produced with reinforcement of 0.1 g, 0.2 g, 0.3 g and 0.4 g of bacteria respectively. Overall, the increment of bacteria mass resulted in the production of yellowish composite films with improved morphological, physical and mechanical properties. The results revealed that the composite films reinforced with 0.3 g and 0.4 g of bacteria appeared to have less curling on the surface of the film. The water absorption properties of the films were initially 140.74% and remained constant at an approximate of 200% after the reinforcement. The tensile strength properties showed a total increment of approximately 22.70% (from 36.10 ± 1.94 MPa to 44.29 ± 0.60 MPa). Based on the results, bacteria fillers were not able to enhance the elongation properties because only about 0.6% of overall increment was observed which was considered insignificant. It was concluded that the bacteria biomass has the potential to be used as fillers to reinforce calcium chloride cured sodium alginate film. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Performance Evaluation and Design of Thermo-Responsive SMP Shading Prototypes
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4391; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114391 - 27 May 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 763
Abstract
Smart materials with changeable properties responding to environmental changes are studied in architecture. Shape Memory Polymer (SMP) is preferred among available thermo-responsive smart materials for architectural applications because of its advantages of reaction temperatures, deformation patterns, shape-changing behaviors, opportunity for various forms and [...] Read more.
Smart materials with changeable properties responding to environmental changes are studied in architecture. Shape Memory Polymer (SMP) is preferred among available thermo-responsive smart materials for architectural applications because of its advantages of reaction temperatures, deformation patterns, shape-changing behaviors, opportunity for various forms and manufacturing processing, in addition to the shape memory effect. Of various façade elements, this study focuses on designing and validating the SMP components as prototypes for shading devices for the Climate Adaptive Building Skin (CABS), to approach design decisions of optimal activation temperature, size, arrangements, and operating scenarios using digital models and simulation tools following the presented research framework in conjunction with design-to-fabrication studies in parallel. Prior to performance evaluations, the operating principles of SMP shading devices and interpretation of temperature data in relation to the urban conditions are prescribed. This research is based on a sustainability assessment of state-of-the-art responsive façade design integrating SMP elements combining active and passive measures to support a sustainable architectural design that provides less heat gain and better daylight comfort while demonstrating the simplified performance analysis method of SMP prototype designs. Following the simulation and comparative analysis of the results, drawbacks, and cautions inherent in the simulation methods, the potential meaning is briefly discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Bio-Inspired Synthetic Ivory as a Sustainable Material for Piano Keys
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6538; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236538 - 20 Nov 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 981
Abstract
Natural ivory is no longer readily or legally available, as it is obtained primarily from elephant tusks, which now enjoy international protection. Ivory, however, is the best material known for piano keys. We present a hydroxylapatite–gelatin biocomposite that is chemically identical to natural [...] Read more.
Natural ivory is no longer readily or legally available, as it is obtained primarily from elephant tusks, which now enjoy international protection. Ivory, however, is the best material known for piano keys. We present a hydroxylapatite–gelatin biocomposite that is chemically identical to natural ivory but with functional properties optimized to replace it. As this biocomposite is fabricated from abundant materials in an environmentally friendly process and is furthermore biodegradable, it is a sustainable solution for piano keys with the ideal functional properties of natural ivory. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Recent Developments in Luffa Natural Fiber Composites: Review
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7683; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187683 - 17 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 612
Abstract
Natural fiber composites (NFCs) are an evolving area in polymer sciences. Fibers extracted from natural sources hold a wide set of advantages such as negligible cost, significant mechanical characteristics, low density, high strength-to-weight ratio, environmental friendliness, recyclability, etc. Luffa cylindrica, also termed [...] Read more.
Natural fiber composites (NFCs) are an evolving area in polymer sciences. Fibers extracted from natural sources hold a wide set of advantages such as negligible cost, significant mechanical characteristics, low density, high strength-to-weight ratio, environmental friendliness, recyclability, etc. Luffa cylindrica, also termed luffa gourd or luffa sponge, is a natural fiber that has a solid potential to replace synthetic fibers in composite materials in diverse applications like vibration isolation, sound absorption, packaging, etc. Recently, many researches have involved luffa fibers as a reinforcement in the development of NFC, aiming to investigate their performance in selected matrices as well as the behavior of the end NFC. This paper presents a review on recent developments in luffa natural fiber composites. Physical, morphological, mechanical, thermal, electrical, and acoustic properties of luffa NFCs are investigated, categorized, and compared, taking into consideration selected matrices as well as the size, volume fraction, and treatments of fibers. Although luffa natural fiber composites have revealed promising properties, the addition of these natural fibers increases water absorption. Moreover, chemical treatments with different agents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and benzoyl can remarkably enhance the surface area of luffa fibers, remove undesirable impurities, and reduce water uptake, thereby improving their overall characteristics. Hybridization of luffa NFC with other natural or synthetic fibers, e.g., glass, carbon, ceramic, flax, jute, etc., can enhance the properties of the end composite material. However, luffa fibers have exhibited a profuse compatibility with epoxy matrix. Full article
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Open AccessReview
From Bio to Nano: A Review of Sustainable Methods of Synthesis of Carbon Nanotubes
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4115; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104115 - 18 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 877
Abstract
This review summarizes the up-to-date techniques devised to synthesize carbon nanotubes (CNTs) from liquid or solid precursors of sustainable nature. The possibility to replace petroleum-based feeds for renewable resources such as essential oils or plant shoots is critically examined. The analysis shows that [...] Read more.
This review summarizes the up-to-date techniques devised to synthesize carbon nanotubes (CNTs) from liquid or solid precursors of sustainable nature. The possibility to replace petroleum-based feeds for renewable resources such as essential oils or plant shoots is critically examined. The analysis shows that the complex nature of such resources requires the optimization of the reaction conditions to obtain products of desired microstructure and chemical composition. However, appropriate tuning of the process parameters enables the synthesis of even high-purity single-walled CNTs with a spectrum of demonstrated high-performance applications at low cost. The sheer number of successful studies completed on this front so far and described herein validate that the development of techniques for the manufacture of such products of high-added value from common precursors is not only possible but, most importantly, promising. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Valorization of Lignin as a Sustainable Component of Structural Materials and Composites: Advances from 2011 to 2019
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020734 - 20 Jan 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1070
Abstract
Lignin is the most abundant aromatic biopolymer and is the sustainable feedstock most likely to supplant petroleum-derived aromatics and downstream products. Rich in functional groups, lignin is largely peerless in its potential for chemical modification towards attaining target properties. Lignin’s crosslinked network structure [...] Read more.
Lignin is the most abundant aromatic biopolymer and is the sustainable feedstock most likely to supplant petroleum-derived aromatics and downstream products. Rich in functional groups, lignin is largely peerless in its potential for chemical modification towards attaining target properties. Lignin’s crosslinked network structure can be exploited in composites to endow them with remarkable strength, as exemplified in timber and other structural elements of plants. Yet lignin may also be depolymerized, modified, or blended with other polymers. This review focuses on substituting petrochemicals with lignin derivatives, with a particular focus on applications more significant in terms of potential commercialization volume, including polyurethane, phenol-formaldehyde resins, lignin-based carbon fibers, and emergent melt-processable waste-derived materials. This review will illuminate advances from the last eight years in the prospective utilization of such lignin-derived products in a range of application such as adhesives, plastics, automotive components, construction materials, and composites. Particular technical issues associated with lignin processing and emerging alternatives for future developments are discussed. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessTechnical Note
Pervious Pavement Blocks Made from Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET): Fabrication and Engineering Properties
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6356; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166356 - 07 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 606
Abstract
The importance of permeable and pervious pavements in reducing urban stormwater runoff and improving water quality is growing. Here, a new pervious pavement block material based on recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste is introduced, which could contribute to reducing global plastic waste via [...] Read more.
The importance of permeable and pervious pavements in reducing urban stormwater runoff and improving water quality is growing. Here, a new pervious pavement block material based on recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste is introduced, which could contribute to reducing global plastic waste via PET’s utilization for construction material fabrication. The engineering properties and durability of recycled PET aggregate (RPA) pervious blocks are verified through flexural tests, in situ permeability tests, clogging tests, and freeze-thaw durability tests, and their cost-effectiveness is assessed by comparison with existing permeable/pervious pavers. Their engineering and economic characteristics confirm that the RPA pervious blocks are suitable for use in urban paving. Full article
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