Hybrid Electrospun Fibres from Biomass-Based Carbon Nanostructures

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

This proposal seeks funding for investigations into the structure and mechanical properties of carbon-nanostructures produced from natural biomass sources and by novel processing techniques. Carbon fibres produced by these routes are attractive since they are cheaper than those obtained by conventional routes (PAN or pitch-based), are derived from a renewable resource and since native cellulose is often already structured, it is an attractive precursor material. In addition to this, native sources of cellulose, such as bacterial, tunicate and derived sources from plant material in the form of whiskers, have fibre diameters in the nanometer range. This enables very slender fibres to be produced which can offer high stiffnesses and strengths. Other sources of nanofibres, such as from CNTs (carbon nanotubes) are expensive to produce, and as such there are significant advantages to the approaches we will investigate. The use of these materials for high performance composites will be investigated using non-contact methods and novel approaches to better understand the interface between materials. Low-cost approaches to the development of high-throughput methods of producing fibres will be addressed, with particular emphasis on enabling the enhancement of material properties from waste and cheaply generated biomass. Additional adventurous research will be conducted on the manipulation and deformation of the nanostructures using a FIB (Focussed Ion Beam) system. The project will fund a postdoctoral research associate for 4 years who will be based in the Materials Science Centre, School of Materials, University of Manchester. No systematic programme of research into the capability of these materials has been investigated in this manner and as such the impact will be both of mutual academic and industrial relevance. In terms of industrial involvement we have the support of five industrial companies (Borregaard - supplier; Technical Fibre Products / end user; Renishaw - technology and Lenzing - suppliers and technology).

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/F036914/1 15/10/2008 18/08/2011 £411,940
EP/F036914/2 Transfer EP/F036914/1 01/09/2011 30/10/2013 £129,672
 
Description The main findings of this research were that we were:-



- Reasonable medium property carbon fibres were obtained from regenerated cellulose fibres spun from a liquid crystalline precursor. These fibres could compete potentially in automotive markets.

- Cellulose acetate nanofibres can be spun using electrospinning and can be deacetylated to produce cellulose fibres. These fibres can then be converted to carbon using lower temperatures than are commonly used for this process.

- Deacetylated fibres (as above) can also be spun containing carbon nanotubes. These carbon nanotubes act as nucleating agents for the graphitisation of the fibres.

- Silicon carbide inclusions were also found to assist the nucleation of graphitized zones.



3 papers have been published so far with a 4th to appear shortly.
Exploitation Route Further funding was obtained from the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing Feasibility study call to make carbon fibre non-woven materials using regenerated cellulose. This involved a number of companies who have subsequently expressed interest in some of the properties of the materials. The carbon nanofibres could be used as low-cost electrode materials for supercapacitors.
 
Description New cost-effective and sustainable polyethylene based carbon fibres for volume market applications
Amount £608,079 (GBP)
Funding ID NEWSPEC 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 11/2013 
End 10/2016
 
Description New cost-effective and sustainable polyethylene based carbon fibres for volume market applications
Amount £608,079 (GBP)
Funding ID NEWSPEC 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 11/2013 
End 10/2016
 
Description Step Change in Performance of Complex Carbon Fibre Weave Geometries using Cellulose Fibre Precursors
Amount £62,263 (GBP)
Funding ID RGS 109195 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2013 
End 10/2013