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Enhancing High-Performance Plastics with Nanocellulose

Photo of Nanocellulose (upper left), an engineering plastic (upper right), and compound made from them (center). Test specimens made from the compound (bottom). Craig Clemons, USDA Forest ServiceNanocellulose (upper left), an engineering plastic (upper right), and compound made from them (center). Test specimens made from the compound (bottom). Craig Clemons, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Forest Service scientists are using nanocellulose to improve the performance of engineering plastics. By applying advanced processing methods, the scientists are able to temporarily reduce the melting point of the engineering plastic so that nanocellulose can be blended with it without degrading the nanocellulose.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Clemons, Craig M. 
Research Location : University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Forest Products Laboratory
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 580

Summary

Nanocellulose represents a new type of forest product that could offer a potential high-value outlet for a variety of underutilized wood-based resources and allow wood to enter entirely new applications and markets because of its unique characteristics. For example, nanocellulose can be used to reinforce plastics, enhancing their performance and providing a favorable balance of properties for a wide variety of applications. Forest Products Laboratory scientists are collaborating with University of Wisconsin researchers to combine nanocellulose with high-performance engineering plastics, which usually have too high of a melting temperature to be used with nanocellulose (i.e. the heat causes the nanocellulose to degrade before the plastics melts). The researchers are investigating new, advanced processing methods using benign materials such as water and nitrogen at high temperatures to temporarily reduce the melting point of the engineering plastic so that nanocellulose can be blended with it without degrading the nanocellulose. The researchers are targeting composites with a fine foam structure for lightweight automotive applications, for example.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • University of Wisconsin