Skip to main content

Recycled Cardboard Containers as a Low Energy Source for Cellulose Nanofibrils and Their Use in Poly(l-lactide) Nanocomposite...

Publication Type
Journal Name
ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Publication Date
Page Numbers
13460 to 13470

Cellulose nanomaterials have attracted a great deal of interest as sustainable alternatives to nonrenewable or fossil fuel-derived materials, particularly in composite applications. Cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) are most often derived from wood sources through energy-intensive and costly mechanical fibrillation processes. In this study, recycled cardboard, referred to as old corrugated cardboard (OCC), was investigated as an alternate CNF source. OCC is a recycled material that can be obtained at one-tenth the cost of the commonly used bleached softwood Kraft pulp and can be refined to similar levels with nearly one-half of the energy consumption. Additionally, the distinct composition and morphology of OCC-derived CNF provides a more favorable fiber–matrix interface and better reinforcement capabilities of the cellulose nanofibrils in polymer matrices, displaying an over 70% increase in tensile modulus at a loading of 40 wt % with no decrease in tensile strength. When paired with biobased poly(l-lactide) (PLLA), OCC-derived CNF is proven to be an attractive low-cost and low-energy reinforcing agent for sustainable, high performance nanocomposites.