Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: Materials Science
Chemar J. Huntley - Tuskegee University
Co-Author(s): Kristy D. Crews and Michael L. Curry, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL
It has been estimated that Europe, Japan, and the United States produce approximately 50 million tons of plastic waste annually. As a result, limited disposal sites and stringent legislation are introduced. In order to reduce the amount of waste, plastics are commonly recycled for use in energy recovery or as precursors for new materials. The high energy-consuming recycling process initially involves the cleaning, cutting, and shredding of plastic materials primarily for remanufacturing preparation. However, the recycling process creates dreadful pollution that results in health and environmental issues. Labs across the globe have devoted many hours and research dollars to the development of techniques to reduce the impact of such hazardous waste on the environment, such as the use of reinforcement fillers to increase biodegradability upon disposal.
Cellulose is a common reinforcement filler that is abundant, biodegradable, and possesses great strength. However, the extraction of cellulose from different biomasses is a rigorous process and, often, modification of its structure is needed to obtain the desired chemical and physical structural properties. Therefore, we have hypothesized that the experimental parameters will affect the structural and thermal properties of cellulose. In this research report, we have extracted cellulose from the agricultural waste product wheat straw via sulfuric and nitric acid hydrolyses and, subsequently, subjected its structure to chemical functionalization using the Albright-Goldman reaction. Apparently, x-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy analyses reveal a structural rearrangement – conversion from Cellulose I/III to Cellulose II – for the modified cellulose. Furthermore, thermal analyses indicate a significant improvement in the thermal stability for the modified cellulose when compared to its unmodified counterpart. Future research includes the effect of thermal and mechanical properties of thermoplastic composites when reinforced with the modified cellulose.Not Submitted
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF EPS-1158862; NSF HRD-1137681; NSF IGERT on Sustainable Electronics DGE-1144843; AGEP HRD-1433005
Faculty Advisor: Michael L. Curry, email@example.com