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Functional Low-Density Materials from Cellulose Fibers and Fibrils

Time: Fri 2024-06-14 10.00

Location: D1, Lindstedtsvägen 17, Stockholm

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Language: English

Subject area: Fibre and Polymer Science

Doctoral student: Jowan Rostami , Fiberteknologi, Fiberteknologi

Opponent: Professor Orlando Rojas, The University of British Columbia, Kanada

Supervisor: Professor Lars Wågberg, Fiberteknologi, VinnExcellens Centrum BiMaC Innovation, Linné Flow Center, FLOW, Wallenberg Wood Science Center; Professor Ulrica Edlund, Polymerteknologi; Docent Klas Tommy Haraldsson, Mikro- och nanosystemteknik, Mercene Labs AB

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QC 20240522

Embargo godkänt av skolchef Amelie Eriksson Karlström via e-post 2024-05-14


Cellulose-based aerogels are emerging bio-based materials for a range of applications in the quest toward a circular and carbon-neutral society. Owing to their lightweight nature, high porosity, high specific surface area, biocompatibility, and biodegradability, cellulose aerogels are suitable for packaging, insulation, wound care products, hygiene products, and water purification. However, their commercial use is hampered by complicated time- and energy-consuming fabrication processes. Hence, industrially relevant processes with upscaling opportunities need to be developed for cellulose-based aerogels to reach their full potential. 

This thesis explores different scalable and simple methods for preparing and designing highly porous aerogels with high wet integrity using cellulose-rich fibers and cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs). As wet integrity is crucial for specific applications and enables further functionalization of the aerogels using water-based chemistry, different methods were developed to achieve wet integrity without complicated crosslinking procedures. The effects of the raw materials and processing methods on the final material properties were also carefully studied to optimize the performance for the targeted applications. Moreover, the role of the network-forming ability of CNFs in the development of functional materials with structural integrity was explored by incorporating small amounts of CNFs in aerogel systems based on macroscopic cellulose-rich fibers and nanosized metal-organic frameworks. 

Finally, the potential of the different developed cellulose-based or cellulose-reinforced aerogels with high wet integrity was demonstrated in applications for which the aerogels’ structural integrity and physical and mechanical properties are highly advantageous, such as biomedical applications, gas storage and separation, flame retardancy, and hygiene products. As demonstrated in this thesis, these functional aerogel materials could be a bio-based alternative for today’s fossil-based materials.