Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Waste fiber can be recycled into valuable products using new technique of electrospinning, Cornell researchers report

11.09.2003


It may soon be possible to produce a low cost, high-value, high-strength fiber from a biodegradable and renewable waste product for air filtration, water filtration and agricultural nanotechnology, report polymer scientists at Cornell University. The achievement is the result of using the recently perfected technique of electrospinning to spin nanofibers from cellulose.

"Cellulose is the most abundant renewable resource polymer on earth. It forms the structure of all plants," says Margaret Frey, an assistant professor of textiles and apparel at Cornell. "Although researchers have predicted that fibers with strength approaching Kevlar could be made from this fiber, no one has yet achieved this. We have developed some new solvents for cellulose, which have allowed us to produce fibers using the technique known as electrospinning."

Frey is collaborating on the research with Yong Joo, an assistant professor, and Choo-won Kim, a graduate student, both in chemical engineering at Cornell. Frey reports on the development Sept. 9 at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in New York City.



The technique of electrospinning cellulose on the nanoscale was successfully used for the first time a few months ago. It involves dissolving cellulose in a solvent, squeezing the liquid polymer solution through a tiny pinhole and applying a high voltage to the pinhole. (Nanoscale refers to measurements often at the molecular level; a nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or three times the diameter of a silicon atom.)

"The technique relies on electrical rather than mechanical forces to form fibers. Thus, special properties are required of polymer solutions for electrospinning, including the ability to carry electrical charges," says Frey.

The charge pulls the polymer solution through the air into a tiny fiber, which is collected on an electrical ground, explains Frey. "The fiber produced is less than 100 nanometers in diameter, which is 1,000 times smaller than in conventional spinning," she says. The new technique is now possible because of a new group of solvents that can dissolve cellulose, Frey says. The Cornell researchers currently are using experimental solvents to find one that will produce fibers with superior properties.

Whenever cotton is converted to fabric and garments, fiber (cellulose) is lost to scrap or waste. At present it is largely discarded or used for low-value products, such as cotton balls, yarns and cotton batting.

"Producing a high-performance material from reclaimed cellulose material will increase motivation to recycle these materials at all phases of textile production and remove them from the waste stream," notes Frey. She says that electrospinning typically produces nonwoven mats of nanofibers, which could provide nanoscale pores for industrial filters.

"Producing ultra-small diameter fibers from cellulose could have a wide variety of applications that would exploit the enormous surface area of nonwoven mats of nanofibers and the possibility of controlling the molecular orientation and crystalline structures of nanoscale fibers," says Frey. If successful, possible applications might include air filtration, protective clothing, agricultural nanotechnology and biodegradable nanocomposites.

"Another application we foresee is using the biodegradable electrospun cellulose mats to absorb fertilizers, pesticides and other materials. These materials would then release the materials at a desired time and location, allowing targeted application," says Joo.

While Frey’s group prepared the novel solvents for cellulose, Joo’s group conducted the electrospinning studies.

Frey notes that the United States produces 20 million 480-pound bales of fiber a year; world annual production is 98 million bales. At every step in the process of converting harvested cotton to fabric and garments, some fiber is lost to scrap or waste, Frey says. In opening and cleaning, for example, 4 to 8 percent of the fiber is lost; up to 1 percent is lost during drawing and roving; and up to 20 percent during combing and yarn production.

The research is supported by the New York State College of Human Ecology at Cornell.

Susan S. Lang | Cornell News
Further information:
http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Sept03/electrospinning.ACS.ssl.html
http://www.human.cornell.edu/faculty/facultybio.cfm?netid=mfw24&facs=1
http://www.cheme.cornell.edu/peopleevents/faculty/joo/

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Move over, Superman! NIST method sees through concrete to detect early-stage corrosion
27.04.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Control of molecular motion by metal-plated 3-D printed plastic pieces
27.04.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>