Location: Bioproducts Research
Project Number: 2030-41000-068-004-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Mar 25, 2019
End Date: Jun 25, 2020
Develop commercial products based on nanofibers from natural biopolymers that can replace traditional commodity-based plastics currently used in the industry.
The rate limiting step in previous processes used for making nanofibers from biopolymers has been the electrospinning process. We aim to optimize this process in a variety of ways, including cost, efficiency, formulation, etc. First we aim to explore the use of solution blow spinning which was developed in our laboratory. We will prepare dilute polymer solutions in various solvents. The solvent selection will not be limited by the dielectric constant as is the case with electrospinning. Nanofibers will be produced by both electrospinning and solution blow spinning. The fiber structure will be examined by scanning electron microscopy. The functionality of the fibers will be compared in side-by-side testing of the finished products. In particular, we plan to: Characterize ViaeX’s membranes (CA/CS-based) using ARS’s respirometer for marine and wastewater biodegradation studies (aerobic/anaerobic degradation studies). Explore spinning feasibility and fiber production (electrospinning, SBS etc.) for Chitin/Chitosan and/or Tencel-based cellulosic fibers at various scales. Explore alternatives for industrial scale fiber production: ARS’s SBS system for Cellulose, Chitin/Chitosan solutions and/or combined with the degradable and compostable Tencel processes. Research on Chitin/Chitosan breakdown using solely bioenzymatic and microbe based process for degradation.