What is it about?

In this study, we report the preparation and incorporation of nanoscale lignin particles in NR latex to improve its mechanical properties. Then, the impact of an industrially applicable leaching process on the toughness and thermo-oxidative stability of rubber films is also discussed. We showed that the tensile strength, toughness, and Shore hardness of rubber films reinforced with 5 wt % nanoscale lignin were improved by 39 %, 53 %, and 12 %, respectively while retaining high elongation at break (∼1800 %). Even after the leaching process, the tensile strength, elongation, and toughness of 1 wt % lignin/rubber nanocomposite were increased by 27 %, 9%, and 32 %, respectively.

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Why is it important?

Strong and tough nanocomposite materials based on natural rubber (NR) latex demonstrate increasing potential to be used in advanced engineering applications and personal care products. Among many approaches for improving the toughness of NR-based products, the use of renewable and bio-based nanofillers is persuaded by environmental and economic trends. In addition, the impact of the leaching process on thermal and mechanical properties (the toughness and tensile properties) of natural rubber nanocomposites has been investigated. This study revealed, the leaching process increases up to 27% of the tensile strength of lignin/rubber nanocomposites.

Perspectives

Nanoscale lignin is an effective bio-based reinforcement filler for an industrial-grade pre-vulcanized rubber latex at different loadings. The improvements reported here can be attributed to the enhanced nanoscale dispersion of lignin and the associated favorable interfacial adhesion of lignin with the rubber matrix.

Dr Pratheep K Annamalai
University of Queensland

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This page is a summary of: Toughening of natural rubber nanocomposites by the incorporation of nanoscale lignin combined with an industrially relevant leaching process, Industrial Crops and Products, January 2021, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2020.113063.
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