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Novel cellulose fibre reinforced thermoplastic materials

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Spun cellulose fibres from the viscose, lyocell and carbamate processes have been used to reinforce thermoplastic commodity polymers, such as polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE) and (high impact) polystyrene (HIPS) as well as poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) for injection moulding applications. A specially developed double pultrusion technique has been employed for compounding. Fibres were analysed in single fibre tensile tests. Strength, stiffness, impact strength, and heat distortion temperature (HDT) were determined for injection-moulded standard test specimen and structural features were revealed by scanning electron microscopy. A strong reinforcing effect was observed in all cases. In particular, high tenacity tyre cord rayon gives excellent composite strength and impact strength, often doubling or tripling the pristine matrix values. In the case of PP, Lyocell type fibres provide enhanced stiffness and HDT, and thus the combination of both fibre types leads to a balanced composite property profile. The PE case is very similar to PP. For HIPS mainly strength and stiffness is increased, while for TPE the property profile is changed completely. With PLA, a biogenic and biodegradable composite with excellent mechanical properties is presented.

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This work has been supported by the Fraunhofer Society within the internal project “Novel polymer-based commodity materials”. We are indebted to Dr M. Pinnow (this institute) for recording the SEM pictures and Cordenka Corp. for long lasting cooperation and support. We thank Tencel Ltd., UK, and Kelheim Faser GmbH, Germany, for providing speciality slivers.

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Correspondence to Hans-Peter Fink.

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Ganster, J., Fink, HP. Novel cellulose fibre reinforced thermoplastic materials. Cellulose 13, 271–280 (2006).

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