Submitted to: Journal of Applied Polymer Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/18/2003
Publication Date: 5/15/2004
Citation: White, L.A. 2004. Preparation and thermal analysis of cotton/clay nanocomposites. Journal of Applied Polymer Science. 92:2125-2131.
Interpretive Summary: Waste cotton from the textile milling process has little or no value. This waste is composed of entangled or very short fibers that cannot be used for knit or woven textiles. The fibers are usually sold very cheaply as a filler for mattresses and other products. Research on conversion of these cotton waste fibers into value-added products has been initiated at the Southern Regional Research Center. This relatively new technology deals with utilization of very small particle size natural substances or nanomaterials such as clays. The clays contain silicate and a specialized treatment allows the cotton waste to be chemically combined with relatively small amounts of natural clay to produce nanocomposite biobased materials for commercial usage as building material products. The nanocomposites show significant improvements in fire resistance and thermal properties when compared with other materials containing only cotton fibers. This development will benefit textile mills in disposal of the waste fibers, the building industry as producers of value-added products, researchers involved in this new and exciting technology, and consumers of such products.
Technical Abstract: Nanocomposites have been produced from cotton with montmorillonite clay used as the nanofiller material. Three exfoliation and intercalation methods using different solvents and clay pretreatment techniques were attempted in production of these organic-inorganic hybrids. The method that resulted in superior clay/cotton nanocomposites utilized a clay pretreatment with 4-methylmorpholine-N-oxide as the cotton solvent. The nanocomposites show significant improvements in thermal properties when compared with unbleached cotton and cotton processed under the conditions for nanocomposite preparation. The degradation temperature of the nanocomposites increased by 45 C and the char yields for some compositions doubled those of unbleached cotton. The crystalline melt of the materials decreased by 15 C. Future research will include development of textiles based on these cotton/clay materials and testing for flame retardant properties and product strength.