Biodegradable Materials

Formation of films, coatings and membranes using nanocellulose

Nanocellulose is currently being studied as a biodegradable yet extremely high performance component in films, membranes and coatings. One of the most critical steps in film/membrane formation is the water removal from aqueous dispersions of nanocellulose, which has a profound influence on their micro/nanostructure that translate to a very large spread of their macroscopic properties.

There is currently a very strong interest both from the scientific community as well as industry in harnessing the water-cellulose interface to develop novel materials and target new applications.

The development of characterisation methods that can help in establishing the structure-properties relationships for such nanocellulose-based materials are crucial. In this connection, neutron scattering has an enormous advantage over other methods based on e.g. X-rays or electrons as it can provide direct information at the nanoscale on the amount, distribution and state of water inside the material.

Several research groups in Swedish are active in this area, and some examples are

The use grazing incidence neutron scattering for determining the structure and porosity of cellulose coatings as done by Daniel Söderberg at KTH

The alignment of nanocellulose using a magnetic field by the group of German Salazar-Alvarez at Uppsala University

There is also a range of green lubricants developed to replace oil based lubricants. Ionic liquids (ILs) are promising in this context and studied by Mark Rutland’s group at KTH
The same is true for solvents and there is a frantic search for alternative green solvents, including Deep eutectic solvents (DES). Small angle neutron scattering has been used by Adrian Sanchez-Fernandez at Lund University to understand coassembly of surfactants with hydrotropes.