Kennesaw State Researcher Wins Petroleum Grant

Altug Poyraz to investigate carbon nanomaterials

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 12, 2019) — Altug Poyraz, an assistant professor of inorganic chemistry at Kennesaw State University, has been awarded an American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (ACS-PRF) grant for research on petroleum coke, a carbon-rich solid fuel produced during the oil refining process.

Altug Poyraz
Altug Poyraz
The ACS-PRF grant is intended to encourage investigators to pursue areas outside the scope of their usual research.

“Federal funding is extremely competitive and, typically, researchers are expected to have an expertise and background in the area of their proposed research,” said Poyraz. “This ACS-PRF grant will allow me to gain experience in the field of carbon materials, more specifically petroleum coke-based carbon materials, which are increasingly gaining popularity in many areas of science and engineering

Poyraz, who joined KSU in 2017 from the Brookhaven National Laboratory, maintains a nanomaterials research group with interests in the broad area of inorganic materials design, synthesis and characterization.

The ACS-PRF grant will allow him to explore new possibilities within organic materials like petroleum coke (PC), a product of the oil refinery process used as fuel in refineries. It is also used as raw material in the cement, steel and aluminum industries.

According to Poyraz, conventional PC activation, which involves using highly toxic chemical and physical activations of carbon under extremely high temperatures, is used to create tiny, nano-sized pores in the substance. However, the carbon materials resulting from these methods have much smaller pore sizes, which limits the use of these materials in some applications.

Scientists are looking for ways to fine-tune the size of the pores in carbon and carbon-based nanomaterials to expand their use.

“Carbon materials with tunable pore sizes are highly anticipated in various fields of science and engineering owing to their high surface area, large pores and pore volume,” Poyraz said. “In our proposed research, we hypothesize that large-surface area and pore-size carbon materials can be synthesized, which could help PC become more usable and potentially lead to more efficient petroleum-based fuels in the future.”

Poyraz was recently recognized for his contribution in the field of chemistry at KSU’s John C. Salerno Memorial Research Symposium, a symposium highlighting a cross-section of faculty research at the University.

He won the John C. Salerno Prize for Research Achievement for developing a non-flammable, aqueous rechargeable Zinc-ion battery that last longer than a similar lithium battery.

In addition to his teaching and research duties, Poyraz serves on the editorial board of Nature Scientific Reports.

—Robert S. Godlewski

Photography by David Johnson


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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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