What is it about?

This study demonstrates an approach to prepare ultra-strong, tear-resistant natural rubber nanocomposites using cellulose nanofibers decorated with nanoscale lignin. The reinforcement of latex with 0.1 wt% cellulose nanofibre compatibilized with 0.5 wt% lignin resulted in a 256% improvement in tear strength, 95% in tensile strength, and 50% in toughness, while retaining the elongation at break.

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Why is it important?

Elastomers which are strong, tough, and resistant to tearing, are highly attractive for engineering applications such as conveyer belts, high-performance seals, tires, and soft robotics. Enhancing these properties for natural rubber materials is possible by utilizing nanoscale fillers, however the nanocomposite approach remains challenging because (a) nanofillers can impede latex molecular crosslinking, and (b) reduce the material’s inherent elasticity and compliance.


Such a simultaneous improvement in tensile and tear properties has not been previously achieved through the latex casting method with any other fillers, and herein it is attributed to the nanoscale reinforcement efficiency of nanofibre coupled with enhanced interfacial adhesion between nanofibers and NR latex with the introduction of nanoscale lignin. This compatibilization approach has also resulted in improved resilience in the nanocomposites, as evidenced by the cycling loading and unloading analysis.

Dr Pratheep K Annamalai
University of Queensland

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Achieving ultra-tear resistant high-performance natural rubber nanocomposite via bio-inspired lignocellulosic compatibilization, Industrial Crops and Products, January 2024, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2023.117729.
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