Cellulose nanocrystal/polymer nanocomposites: Processing strategies, structure variation and explored applications
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Interest in the most ubiquitous and abundant organic compound—cellulose, harvested from the forest product, has increased notably over recent decades. This bio-based material has been used essentially in bio-composites or in the paper industry; mainly due to its high mechanical reinforcement ability or barrier property respectively. Its nano-scale dimensions and its capacity to form a strong entangled nanoporous network have encouraged the emergence of new high-value applications. The principle reason to utilize cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) as a reinforcing material is that we can potentially exploit the high crystal modulus of cellulose as well as the ability to chemically modify their surface structure. Its high stiffness arises from the hydrogen bond networks formed on the glucose residues from one chain with oxygen molecules on another chain. By selecting the appropriate polymer of choice, the polymer matrix will be bonded strongly with cellulose. The goal of this research was to optimize the processing methods to prepare cellulose-based composite films in different polymer systems. The compatibility of CNC in those polymer matrices was found strongly affect its reinforcing properties. A low cost, bio-based polyelectrolyte membrane with promising potential in green power generation was fabricated in replacement of petroleum-based counterpart.