Polymer Matrix Nanocomposites via Forest Derived Nanomaterials

G.T. Schueneman, E.A. Mintz, L. Cross
USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory, US

Keywords: cellulose nanocrystals, epoxy, surface functionalization, coating

Summary:

Trees are a likely source of bioderived nanomaterials for polymer matrix composites (PMCs). All trees and plants utilize a nanoscale fiber as a building block in their reinforcing phase. The presence of nanofiber in cell walls was postulated in the 1920’s and proven in the 1950’s. Results to date have shown that crystalline cellulose nanofibers, termed cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), have modulus and tensile properties on par with Kevlar™. We will report the effects of incorporating CNC from trees with as produced and tailored surfaces into model epoxy formulations. Although, CNC’s and epoxies have been studied previously, this is the first time the surfaces of the nanocellulose has been tailored to be more compatible with the resin and/or hardener. We are also evaluating these composites in protective coating application specific tests and determining their mechanical properties. The performance enhancement seen in these nanocomposites provide evidence for forest derived nanomaterials being a promising reinforcing phase for petroleum based and bioderived PMCs.