High Modulus Regenerated Cellulose Fibers Spun from a Low Molecular Weight Microcrystalline Cellulose Solution

Chenchen Zhu, Robert Richardson, Kevin Potter, Anastasia Koutsomitopoulou, Jeroen S Van Duijneveldt, Sheril Rizal Vincent, Nandula D. Wanasekara, Stephen J. Eichhorn, Sameer Rahatekar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
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We have developed a novel process to convert low molecular weight microcrystalline cellulose into stiff regenerated cellulose fibers using a dry-jet wet fiber spinning process. Highly aligned cellulose fibers were spun from optically anisotropic microcrystalline cellulose/1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium
diethyl phosphate (EMImDEP) solutions. As the cellulose concentration increased from 7.6 to 12.4 wt %, the solution texture changed from completely isotropic to weakly nematic. Higher concentration solutions (>15 wt %) showed strongly optically anisotropic patterns, with clearing temperatures ranging from 80 to 90 °C. Cellulose fibers were spun from 12.4, 15.2, and 18.0 wt % cellulose solutions. The physical properties of these fibers were studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), wide angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD), and tensile testing. The 18.0 wt % cellulose fibers, with an average diameter of ∼20 μm, possessed a high Young’s modulus up to ∼22 GPa, moderately high tensile strength of ∼305 MPa, as well as high alignment of cellulose chains along the fiber axis confirmed by X-ray diffraction. This process presents a new route to convert icrocrystalline cellulose, which is usually used for low mechanical performance applications (matrix for pharmaceutical tablets and food ingredients, etc.) into stiff fibers which can potentially be used for high-performance composite materials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4545-4553
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number9
Early online date22 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2016


  • microcrystalline cellulose
  • ionic liquid
  • anisotropy
  • fiber spinning
  • alignment
  • mechanical property


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