Wood Microfibres - Effective Reinforcing Agents for Composites
This work is based on a process to develop novel cellulose microfibre reinforced composite materials, and to understand fundamental mechanical properties of these composites. Cellulose microfibres having diameters <1 μm were generated from bleached kraft pulp by a combination of high shear refining and subsequent cryocrushing under liquid nitrogen, followed by filtration through a 60 mesh screen. Through film casting in polyvinyl alcohol, theoretical stiffness of the microfibres was calculated as 69 GPa. Subsequently, these microfibres were successfully dispersed in the bioplastics thermoplastic starch and polylactic acid (PLA), using conventional processing equipments. The high aspect ratio of these microfibres coupled with their high tensile properties imparted superior mechanical strength and stiffness to the composites. These indicated that by suitably choosing the polymer, excellent reinforcement can be achieved for high end applications like automotive parts.