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Carbon Fibers from Lignin-Cellulose Precursors: Effect of Stabilization Conditions

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journal contribution
posted on 10.04.2019, 00:00 authored by Andreas Bengtsson, Jenny Bengtsson, Maria Sedin, Elisabeth Sjöholm
There is an increasing demand for lightweight composites reinforced with carbon fibers (CFs). Due to its high availability and carbon content, kraft lignin has gained attention as a potential low-cost CF precursor. CFs with promising properties can be made from flexible dry-jet wet spun precursor fibers (PFs) from blends (70:30) of softwood kraft lignin and fully bleached softwood kraft pulp. This study focused on reducing the stabilization time, which is critical in CF manufacturing. The impact of stabilization conditions on chemical structure, yield, and mechanical properties was investigated. It was possible to reduce the oxidative stabilization time of the PFs from about 16 h to less than 2 h, or even omitting the stabilization step, without fusion of fibers. The main reactions involved in the stabilization stage were dehydration and oxidation. The results suggest that the isothermal stabilization at 250 °C override the importance of having a slow heating rate. For CFs with a commercial diameter, stabilization of less than 2 h rendered in tensile modulus 76 GPa and tensile strength 1070 MPa. Impregnation with ammonium dihydrogen phosphate significantly increased the CF yield, from 31–38 to 46–50 wt %, but at the expense of the mechanical properties.