Public defence - Lilian Forsgren
Virtual Development Laboratory (VDL), Chalmers Tvärgata 4 C, Göteborg
Opponent: Prof. Sigbritt Karlsson, Kungliga tekniska högskolan, Stockholm, Sverige
Examiner: Antal Boldizar, IMS
Evaluation Committee: Patric Jannasch, Kemicentrum, LTH Lund, Berenika Hausnerova, Tomas Bata University Zlin, Czech Republic, Mikael Skrifvars, Högskolan i Borås
Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) were surface modified with dialkylamines to increase the compatibility between the CNC and the polymeric matrix, and promising results were obtained, with a 300 % stiffness increase when the mixed dispersion was compression moulded on a laboratory scale. The manufacturing process was up-scaled using water-assisted mixing in a twin-screw extruder (TSE) followed by a second compounding step and injection moulding (IM). The composites were successfully produced using conventional melt-processing techniques but these did not show the same improvement in mechanical performance, probably due to the formation of CNC aggregates. There were indications of network formation when CNC was added, especially in the case of surface-modified CNC.
Cellulose fibres and thermomechanical pulp were used as reinforcement in similar types of polymer matrices and the mixtures were similarly processed by TSE and IM. These materials were characterized with regard to appearance and durability. The discoloration of the composites due to excessive heat during processing did not significantly affect their mechanical properties, and the addition of the cellulose-based reinforcement to the polymer did not reduce its resistance to thermo-oxidative degradation compared to that of the pure matrix. In fact, the resistance to degradation was increased when lignin was present in the reinforcing element, showing a synergistic effect together with the added anti-oxidant.
Superior properties were expected for the CNC composites compared to those of the larger cellulose fibre reinforcements, but in continuous production the stiffening effects were similar regardless of reinforcement type. These results confirm that the processing method and properties strongly affect the final properties of the composite.