Elasticity of Cellulose Nanofibril Materials
Sammanfattning: The demand for renewable load-carrying materials is increasing with increasing environmental awareness. Alternative sources for materials manufacturing and design have to be investigated in order to replace the non-biodegradable materials. The work presented in this thesis investigates structure-property relations of such renewable materials based on cellulose nanofibrils. Cellulose is the most abundant polymer on earth and exists in both ordered and disordered phases, where the ordered crystalline cellulose shows excellent mechanical properties. The celluloses nanofibril is composed of partly crystalline cellulose where the stiff crystal regions, or crystallites, are orientated in the axial direction of the fibrils. The cellulose nanofibrils have a high aspect ratio, i.e. length to diameter ratio, with a diameter of less than 100 nm and a length of some micrometres. In the presented work, different properties of the cellulose nanofibril were studied, e.g. elastic properties, structure, and its potential as a reinforcement constituent. The properties and behaviour of the fibrils were studied with respect to different length scales, from the internal structure of the cellulose nanofibril, based on molecular dynamic simulations, to the macroscopic properties of cellulose nanofibril based materials. Films and composite materials with in-plane randomly oriented fibrils were produced. Properties of the cellulose nanofibril based materials, such as stiffness, thickness variation, and fibril orientation distribution, were investigated, from which the effective elastic properties of the fibrils were determined. The studies showed that a typical softwood based cellulose nanofibril has an axial stiffness of around 65 GPa. The properties of the cellulose nanofibril based materials are highly affected by the dispersion and orientation of the fibrils. To use the full potential of the stiff fibrils, well dispersed and oriented fibrils are essential. The orientation distribution of fibrils in hydrogels subjected to a strain was therefore investigated. The study showed that the cellulose nanofibrils have high ability to align, where the alignment increased with increased applied strain.
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