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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #344339

Research Project: Evaluation of the Chemical and Physical Properties of Low-Value Agricultural Crops and Products to Enhance Their Use and Value

Location: Functional Foods Research

Title: Lignocellulosic composites prepared utilizing aqueous alkaline/urea solutions with cold temperatures

item Tisserat, Brent
item Liu, Zengshe - Kevin
item HAVERHALS, LUKE - Bradley University

Submitted to: International Journal of Polymer Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/4/2018
Publication Date: 2/14/2018
Citation: Tisserat, B., Liu, Z., Haverhals, L.M. 2018. Lignocellulosic composites prepared utilizing aqueous alkaline/urea solutions with cold temperatures. International Journal of Polymer Science.

Interpretive Summary: There is a constant demand for consumer/industrial goods and fuels to be produced from biobased sources. Currently 8% of total petroleum products (crude oil and natural gas) are utilized in the manufacture of plastics. To reduce costs and improve performance, plastics are often blended with lignocellulosic materials to obtain biocomposites. Recent technologies employing cold alkaline solvents have liquefied cellulose to produce a product that may substitute for petroleum-based plastics in the fabrication of novel biocomposites. This study demonstrates a methodology to produce lignocellulosic composites (LCs) using cotton as the matrix material and wood/fibers as the reinforcement agents. These LCs were found to have mechanical properties on par with thermoplastics and cardboard. These results suggest that these novel LCs may compete with petroleum-based plastics products.

Technical Abstract: Lignocellulosic composites (LCs) were fabricated by partially dissolving cotton to create a matrix that was reinforced with Osage orange wood (OOW) particles and/or Blue agave fibers (AF). LCs were composed of 15-35% cotton matrix: 65-85% OWW/AF reinforcement. The matrix was produced by soaking cotton wool in a cold aqueous alkaline/urea solvent and stirred for 15 minutes at 350 rpm to create a viscous gel. The gel was then reinforced with lignocellulosic components, mixed and then pressed into a panel mold. LC panels were soaked in water to remove the aqueous solvent and then oven dried to obtain the final LC product. Several factors involved in the preparation of these LCs were examined including: reaction temperatures (-5 to -15 oC), matrix concentration (15-35% cotton), aqueous solvent volume (45-105 ml/panel), and the effectiveness of employing different aqueous solvent formulations. The flexural and mechanical properties of LCs were determined and reported.