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Sustainable high-strength macrofibres extracted from natural bamboo

Zhihan Li, Chaoji Chen, Hua Xie, Yuan Yao, Xin Zhang, Alexandra Brozena, Jianguo Li, Yu Ding, Xinpeng Zhao, Min Hong, Haiyu Qiao, Lee M. Smith, Xuejun Pan, Robert Briber, Sheldon Q. Shi and Liangbing Hu ()
Additional contact information
Zhihan Li: University of Maryland
Chaoji Chen: University of Maryland
Hua Xie: University of Maryland
Yuan Yao: Yale University
Xin Zhang: University of Maryland
Alexandra Brozena: University of Maryland
Jianguo Li: University of Maryland
Yu Ding: University of Maryland
Xinpeng Zhao: University of Maryland
Min Hong: University of Maryland
Haiyu Qiao: University of Maryland
Lee M. Smith: University of North Texas
Xuejun Pan: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Robert Briber: University of Maryland
Sheldon Q. Shi: University of North Texas
Liangbing Hu: University of Maryland

Nature Sustainability, 2022, vol. 5, issue 3, 235-244

Abstract: Abstract Synthetic fibres such as polyester and carbon are used in a broad variety of industries. However, as they derive from petrochemicals that are neither renewable nor biodegradable, the development of natural alternatives has gained increasing momentum in recent years. Here, we report a top-down approach for scalable production of cellulose macrofibres from bamboo stems involving a mild delignification process followed by water-assisted air-drying. Consisting of aligned and densely packed cellulose nanofibrils that possess strong hydrogen bonds and van der Walls forces, the extracted fibres exhibit a tensile strength of 1.90 ± 0.32 GPa, a Young’s modulus of 91.3 ± 29.7 GPa and a toughness of 25.4 ± 4.5 MJ m−3, which exceed those of wood-derived fibres and are comparable to synthetic carbon analogues. As a result of the low density, the specific strength is as high as 1.26 ± 0.21 GPa cm−3 g−1, surpassing most reinforcing components such as steel wire, synthetic polymers and vitreous fibres. The life-cycle assessment reveals that replacing polymer and carbon fibres in structural composites with the current natural fibres leads to substantial reduction in carbon emissions. Our work suggests a pathway towards sustainability in wider areas of application, including automobiles, aeronautics and construction.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00831-2

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