Ulrich Hanke: NMR relaxometry on natural porous materials

May to June 2013 in Palermo, Italy

Ulrich Hanke's STSM topic was to study the surface properties of biochar with Fast Field Cycling Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (FFC NMR) relaxometry. His host Pellegrino Conte is an expert for NMR Diffusion (NMRD) on natural porous materials. Together they investigated the nature of interactions between water and biochar.

Ulrich's personal summary:

"The motivation for a STSM arose during my master thesis work on natural porous materials at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany in winter 2012/13. I studied the physical and chemical properties of hydrochars and pyrochars from various feedstock and the results have been of a great help to interpret the data of NMRD.

In principle NMR spectroscopy is a physical phenomenon that allows research on the structure and dynamics of a molecule as a magnetic field is applied. In particular, FFC NMR relaxometry investigates the mechanism of the longitudinal relaxation, i.e. the return of the magnetization towards the z-axis, as the magnetic field is switched among three different values. Our results indicate that mainly two processes control the behavior of water in biochars. Water molecules move either laterally on surface due to diffusion processes or form hydrogen bonds with the surface functionalities of biochar.

NMRD contributes a great deal to the investigation of the physicochemical properties of biochars. Questions concerning the interactions between water and biochar can be elucidated, which is an important contribution to the understanding of the water-retention capacity of biochar. I highly appreciate that I had the opportunity to participate in COST Action TD1107 to improve my professional skills by applying advanced analytical techniques. Personally, it has been a pleasant time living in Palermo with its rich European history and its cross-multicultural identity. Along with other PhD students, partly international, I had a great and communicative time in a delightful Mediterranean environment. I highly recommend applying for a STSM!"

General Information on Ulrich's STSM

STSM Grantee Ulrich M. Hanke, MLU Halle-Wittenberg
Topic NMR relaxometry on natural porous materials
Duration 8 weeks (May to June 2013)
Host Pellegrino Conte
Location Università degli Studi di Palermo, Italy





Food Market in Palermo (Photo: Ulrich Hanke)