Submitted to: Journal of Industrial Textiles
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 28, 2005
Publication Date: February 14, 2005
Citation: Yachmenev, V., Negulescu, I.I., Chen, Y. 2005. Thermal isulation properties of cellulosic-based nonwoven composites. Journal of Industrial Textiles. 36(1):73-87. Interpretive Summary: The market for automotive nonwovens in the USA is the largest in the world (~16 million new cars per year). Typically, about twenty square meters of nonwovens are used in the interior and trunk of the average car. Currently, automotive nonwovens are made from synthetic, petro-based polymer materials that are not biodegradable, thus creating significant environmental problems. Natural cellulosic-based fibers combined with recycled thermoplastic synthetic fibers or with another suitable binding material such as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and Eastar Biocopolymer (EBC) could be fitting starting materials for development of low cost biodegradable nonwoven composites for automotive interiors. Three different sets of nonwoven composites incorporating different cellulosic fibers, manufacturing techniques and various ratios of vegetable/synthetic fibers were made on laboratory-scale equipment. A steady-state Heat Flow Meter (FOX 200) was used for evaluation of thermal conductivity of composites. The results show that the thermal insulation properties of nonwoven composites vary significantly, depending on the type of the vegetable fibers, nature and quantity of the binder, design, and resulting bulk density of composites. These data will provide valuable information for the manufacturer to select the most suitable cellulosics for automotive moldable nonwoven materials. Groups benefiting from this development include the textile industry, industrial and academic textile scientists and the consumer of such products.
Technical Abstract: The use of cellulosic fibers, such as cotton, kenaf, ramie, jute, flax, and bagasse, in the manufacturing of nonwoven composites for a variety of automotive parts, such as headliners, wall panels, and trunk liners, could significantly enhance their “end of life” biodegradability and also improve their thermal insulation properties. Currently, automotive nonwovens are made from synthetic, petro-based polymer materials that are not biodegradable, thus creating significant environmental problems. Three different sets of “sandwich-type” nonwoven materials were manufactured by layering cellulosic webs, with recycled thermoplastic synthetic fibers and/or using readily biodegradable binders such as polyvinyl alcohol and Eastar Biocopolymer. A steady state heat flow meter was used for evaluation of the thermal insulation properties of these biodegradable, low cost nonwoven composites. The results show that the thermal insulation properties of cellulosic-based nonwoven composite materials vary significantly, depending on the type of the vegetable fibers, ratios of cellulosic to synthetic fibers, nature and quantity of the binder, design, and the resulting bulk density of composites.