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High-Density Molded Cellulose Fibers and Transparent Biocomposites Based on Oriented Holocellulose

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-02-14, 00:00 authored by Xuan Yang, Fredrik Berthold, Lars A. Berglund
Ecofriendly materials based on well-preserved and nanostructured wood cellulose fibers are investigated for the purpose of load-bearing applications, where optical transmittance may be advantageous. Wood fibers are subjected to mild delignification, flow orientation, and hot-pressing to form an oriented material of low porosity. The biopolymer composition of the fibers is determined. Their morphology is studied by scanning electron microscopy, cellulose orientation is quantified by X-ray diffraction, and the effect of beating is investigated. Hot-pressed networks are impregnated by a methyl methacrylate monomer and polymerized to form thermoplastic wood fiber/poly­(methyl methacrylate) biocomposites. Tensile tests are performed, as well as optical transmittance measurements. Structure–property relationships are discussed. High-density molded fibers from holocellulose have mechanical properties comparable with nanocellulose materials and are recyclable. The thermoplastic matrix biocomposites showed superior mechanical properties (Young’s modulus of 20 GPa and ultimate strength of 310 MPa) at a fiber volume fraction of 52%, with high optical transmittance of 90%. The study presents a scalable approach for strong, stiff, and transparent molded fibers/biocomposites.