Thermoset resins using technical lignin as a base constituent

Time: Fri 2020-01-31 14.00

Location: F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Fibre and Polymer Science

Doctoral student: Marcus Jawerth , Ytbehandlingsteknik, Wallenberg Wood Science Center, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Opponent: Professor Heikki Tenhu, University of Helsinki

Supervisor: Professor Mats Johansson, Fiber- och polymerteknologi, Polymerteknologi, Fiber- och polymerteknologi

Abstract

The need to find sustainable paths for our society is imminent to tackle environmental concerns of today. The majority of all plastic materials are produced from crude oil but in the future a much larger portion must originate from renewable resources to address some of these problems. Aromatic molecules are often used when producing rigid and thermally stable polymeric materials but there are few natural sources for them. One is, however, the wood component lignin that is produced on a large scale from chemical pulping processes of biomass. Lignins aromatic structures could be an alternative for non-renewable aromatics in e.g. thermoset applications.

The heterogeneity of lignin does however present some problems in terms of e.g. dispersity, solubility, diverse functionality, and varying polymer backbone structure. To tackle these challenges, work-up of lignin and thorough characterization are important to be able to produce materials with predetermined, predictable, properties. Technical lignins have functional groups that can be utilized as chemical handles for further modifications required for different material systems e.g. phenols, aliphatic hydroxyls, and carboxylic acids.

This thesis focuses on how to utilize solvent fractionated, relatively well-characterized, LignoBoost Kraft lignin to produce thermoset resins by chemical modification and a crosslinking procedure. An efficient procedure to selectively allylate the phenolics, the most abundant functionality, of the lignin fractions has been developed and evaluated as well as a curing procedure using a thiol crosslinker and a thiol-ene reaction. The produced materials were analysed with regards to material properties, density, and morphology. The resins based on the selectively allylated lignin fractions were furthermore evaluated as a potential matrix for carbon fibre composites. It was shown that the material samples could be processed by pre-impregnating carbon fibres and form composite materials. The molecules of the lignin fraction were also used as core substrates in a ring-opening polymerization to produce functional star co-polymers. The procedure was evaluated and it could be shown that the lignin backbone was subjected to substantial structural changes of lignin inter-unit linkages.

Lignin being one of the few large resources of naturally occurring aromatics has a big potential to be used for material applications where rigidity and thermal stability is important. This thesis attempts to add a few pieces towards such a goal.

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