Regenerated Cellulose and Willow Lignin Blends as Potential Renewable Precursors for Carbon Fibers

Sheril Vincent, Raquel Prado, Olga Kuzmina, Kevin Potter, Jyoti Bhardwaj, Nandula D. Wanasekara, Robert L. Harniman, A. Koutsomitopoulou, Stephen J. Eichhorn, Tom Welton, Sameer S. Rahatekar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

14 Citations (Scopus)
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We report on the extraction of lignin from willow and its use to manufacture cellulose-lignin fibers as potential precursors for the manufacture of carbon fibers. The lignin from willow was extracted using triethylammonium hydrogen sulfate [Et3NH][HSO4]. The lignin extracted by this process was characterized by ATR-IR and elemental analysis, which indicated a high carbon yield. 1-Ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate [C2C1im][OAc] was then used as a common solvent to dissolve cellulose and lignin to manufacture lignin-cellulose fiber blends. The Young's modulus of a 75:25 lignin/cellulose fiber was found to be 3.0 ± 0.5 GPa, which increased to 5.9 ± 0.6 GPa for a 25:75 lignin/cellulose blend. From a characterization of the surface morphology, using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM), it was observed that higher lignin content in the fiber blend increased the surface roughness. FT-IR analysis confirmed the presence of aromatic groups related to lignin in the obtained fibers from the presence of peaks located at ∼1505 cm-1 and ∼1607 cm-1. The presence of lignin improves the thermal stability of the fiber blends by allowing them to degrade over a wider temperature range. The presence of lignin also improved the carbon yield during carbonization. Therefore, the lignin-cellulose fibers developed in this work can offer an excellent alternative to pure cellulose or lignin filaments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5903-5910
Number of pages8
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number5
Early online date11 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2018


  • Carbon fibers
  • Carbonization
  • Cellulose
  • Fiber spinning
  • Ionic liquids
  • Lignin

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