Properties and use of graphene oxide in the mitigation of bacterial contamination in aviation fuel

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Chemical Engineering


Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering


Advisor: Donald A. Comfort


Over the last decade, bacterial contamination of aviation fuel has become a serious problem for commercial, private, and military aircraft. Bacterial contamination has been attributed to fuel line and filter plugging, topcoat deterioration, and wing tank corrosion. An efficient method of removing bacteria from the fuel is needed to prevent these issues, as well as the potential for more serious issues. The use of nanomaterials, in conjunction with a filtration apparatus, may serve as a solution for this contamination. Graphene oxide, as well as silver decorated graphene oxide, were evaluated for their antibacterial properties. It was found that graphene oxide enhances cellular growth of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria through a mechanism of bacterial attachment, proliferation, and biofilm formation. Silver decorated graphene oxide inhibits growth in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Large and small-scale columns were developed utilizing either graphene oxide or silver decorated graphene oxide as its filter media. These columns were then used to filter aviation fuel contaminated with bacteria. Both graphene oxide (GO) and silver decorated graphene oxide (Ag-GO) were found to remove more than 99% of all E. coli and Bacillus licheniformis cells in Jet A aviation fuel, through a combination of cellular attachment and DNA lysis. This removal of bacterial cells provides new insight into the properties of GO and the conceptual basis for its application in biotechnology.


Airplanes Fuel Contamination Prevention, Airplanes Fuel Microbiology, Fuel Microbiology, Graphite

Rights Statement

Copyright 2012, author