Hybrid cellulose fiber reinforced polymer composites

The modern world is swamped with polymeric materials; there is hardly a single area of life where they aren't used.

In the 21st century, environmental protection to save the planet from pollution has become an urgent priority. Scientists continue to search for new materials whose environmental ageing time is reduced several to several dozen times. With regard to these issues, our research group have developed innovative and, above all, environmentally friendly composites. The novelty of the approach is the use of biomass, namely cellulose fibers in an ethylene-norbornene copolymer.

Recently, there has been a renewed interest in modifying polymers with natural fibers to engineer products with controlled degradation time.

To satisfy these expectations, an innovative method of preparation of polyolefin composition filled with modified cellulose fibers was developed for polymeric products with improved mechanical strength. The idea has been developed by mgr inż. Stefan Cichosz, dr hab. inż. Anna Masek, prof. PŁ, prof. Marian Zaborski, and inż. Karol Tutek.

What makes this composition special is the possibility of customizing the life of the finished product in a very simple way - by adding an appropriate amount of polysaccharide. However, the fibers are modified in a hybrid way, thereby obtaining unique properties and greater compatibility with the hybrid polymer matrix. The advantage of the solution over the previously known materials is also reduced production cost, which is extremely appealing given the high prices of biopolymers available on the market.

Also, by selecting an appropriate method of modification of natural fibers, the strength of the finished product is increased. This method has been described in the patent specification Modification of cellulose fibers and the polyolefin composition containing cellulose fibers thus modified (Sposób modyfikacji włókien celulozowych oraz kompozycja poliolefinowa zawierająca włókna celulozowe modyfikowane tym sposobem).

The composites may have a broad range of applications throughout many different industries, e.g. automotive, packaging, disposable products, and others.