Melt extrusion fiber spinning of polyethylene reinforced with cellulose nanocrystals at high loadings

N. Brandquist, A. Ayoub, R.A. Venditti
NC State University,
United States

Keywords: cellulose nanocrystals, CNC, polyethylene, composite, melt spinning, fiber

Summary:

Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) are of high interest in the fields of nanocomposites due to their abundance, nontoxicity, biodegradability, and high strength and stiffness per unit weight. CNC materials are promising candidates for bio-nanocomposite production. Such new high-value materials are commercially interesting in terms of new products from the pulp and paper industry and the agricultural sector. A challenge associated with using nanocellulose in composites is the lack of compatibility with hydrophobic polymers. Most attempts to incorporate nanocellulose into synthetic polymers require drying the nanocellulose, but this results in agglomeration, lack of dispersion and reduced interface area. The present research will discuss a new approach of developing extruded filament nanocomposites from blending polyethylene and cellulose nanocrystals using melt extrusion in the presence of a plasticizer without drying or chemical modification of the CNC. The resulting structure of the nanocomposite and thermal, mechanical and physical properties are described. The approach successfully allows for melt extrusion of filament with high CNC loadings.