Structure and properties of regenerated cellulose fibers from aqueous NaOH/thiourea/urea solution
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Regenerated cellulose fibers were successfully prepared through dissolving cotton linters in NaOH/thiourea/urea aqueous solution at −2 °C by a twin-screw extruder and wet-spinning process at varying precipitation and drawing conditions. The dissolution process of an optimized 7 wt% cellulose was controlled by polarizing microscopy and resulted in a transparent and stable cellulose spinning dope. Rheological investigations showed a classical shear thinning behavior of the cellulose/NaOH/thiourea/urea solution and a good stability towards gelation. Moreover, the mechanical properties, microstructures and morphology of the regenerated cellulose fibers were studied extensively by single fiber tensile testing, X-ray diffraction, synchrotron X-ray investigations, birefringence measurements and field-emission scanning electron microscopy. Resulting fibers demonstrated a smooth surface and circular cross-section with homogeneous morphological structure as compared with commercial viscose rayon. At optimized jet stretch ratio, acidic coagulation composition and temperature, the structural features and tensile properties depend first of all on the drawing ratio. In particular the crystallinity and orientation of the novel fibers rise with increasing draw ratio up to a maximum followed by a reduction due to over-drawing and oriented crystallites disruption. The microvoids in the fiber as analysed with SAXS were smaller and more elongated with increasing drawing ratio. Moreover, a higher tensile strength (2.22 cN/dtex) was obtained in the regenerated fiber than that of the viscose rayon (2.13 cN/dtex), indicating higher crystallinity and orientation, as well as more elongated and orientated microvoid in the regenerated fiber. All in all, the novel extruder-based method is beneficial with regard to the dissolution temperature and a simplified production process. Taking into account the reasonable fiber properties from the lab-trials, the suggested dissolution and spinning route may offer some prospects as an alternative cellulose processing route.
KeywordsTwin-screw extruder Regenerated cellulose fibers Wet-spinning Structure and properties Alkali complex solvent
This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (51503032) and Shanghai Sailing Program (14YF1405200).
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