Material Science

Researchers Create Environmental Friendly Nanocellulose-Based Styrofoam

Engineers from Washington State University have built up a replacement for Styrofoam. The material is plant-based and is environmetnally-friendly.

Nanocrystals of cellulose involve the foam. Cellulose is the most plentiful plant material on earth. The foam can be created through a simple and environmentally-friendly procedure with the utilization of water rather than different chemicals as solvents. The discoveries of the study have been published in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers.

The group is led by Amir Ameli, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and Xiao Zhang, associate professor in the Gene and Linda School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.

Petroleum-based styrofoam is the material utilized in building and construction, coffee cups, transportation, and packaging industries. Be that as it may, it utilizes toxic ingredients as its raw material, should be degraded in an artificial manner, uses petroleum, and produces toxic gases when burned.

Different researchers applied exertion in other cellulose-based foams. Be that as it may, their performance isn’t at standard with Styforoam.

“In their work, the WSU team created a material that is made of about 75 percent cellulose nanocrystals from wood pulp. They added polyvinyl alcohol, another polymer that bonds with the nanocellulose crystals and makes the resultant foams more elastic. The material that they created contains a uniform cellular structure that means it is a good insulator. For the first time, the researchers report, the plant-based material surpassed the insulation capabilities of Styrofoam. It is also very lightweight and can support up to 200 times its weight without changing shape. It degrades well, and burning it doesn’t produce polluting ash,” as per Nanowerk.

“We have used an easy method to make high-performance, composite foams based on nanocrystalline cellulose with an excellent combination of thermal insulation capability and mechanical properties,” Ameli said. “Our results demonstrate the potential of renewable materials, such as nanocellulose, for high-performance thermal insulation materials that can contribute to energy savings, less usage of petroleum-based materials, and reduction of adverse environmental impacts.”

“This is a fundamental demonstration of the potential of nanocrystalline cellulose as an important industrial material,” Zhang said. “This promising material has many desirable properties, and to be able to transfer these properties to a bulk scale for the first time through this engineered approach is very exciting.” The analysts are presently creating formulations for stronger and more durable materials for practical applications. They are interested in incorporating low-cost feedstocks to make an commercially reasonable item and thinking about how to move from laboratory to a real-world manufacturing scale.