The application of super-hydrophobic nanomaterials for synthesizing membranes with unique physiochemical properties has gained a lot of interest among researchers. The presence of super-hydrophobic materials inside the membrane matrix can play a vital role not only in the separation of toxins, but also to achieve higher water flux with lower fouling tendencies required for an efficient membrane distillation process. In this research, super-hydrophobic carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) were synthesized using powder activated carbon (PAC) as a precursor, whereby the growth was initiated using a bimetallic catalyst of iron (Fe) and molybdenum (Mo). Until recently, no research has been conducted for synthesis and to observe the catalytic influence of bimetallic catalysts on the physiochemical characteristics of the derived CNMs. The synthesis process was carried out using the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process. The CVD process was optimized using Box-Behnken factorial design (BBD), whereby 15 experiments were carried out under different conditions. Three input variables, which were percentage composition of catalysts (percentage of Fe and Mo) and reaction time (tr), were optimized with respect to their impact on the desired percentage output of yield (CY) and contact angle (CA). Analysis of variance (ANOVA) testing was carried out. It was observed that the developed model was statistically significant. The highest CY (320%) and CA (172°) were obtained at the optimal loading of 5% Fe and 2% Mo, with a reaction time of 40 min. Surface morphological features were observed using field emission scanning electron microscopic (FESEM) and transmission electron microscopic (TEM) analysis. The images obtained from FESEM and TEM revealed the presence of two types of CNMs, including carbon nanofibers (CNFs) and multiwall carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Thermogravimetric analysis was carried out to observe the temperature degradation profile of the synthesized sample. Raman spectroscopic analysis was also used in order to have a better understanding regarding the proportion of ordered and disordered carbon content inside the synthesized sample.
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