New Method of Converting Bagasse and Other Lignocellulose Residues into Functional Regenerated Cellulose Fiber

Physical Sciences : Materials and Compounds

Available for licensing

Inventors

  • Jonathan Chen, Ph.D. , School of Human Ecology; (also) Dept. of Textiles & Apparel
  • Liangfeng (Tom) Sun , School of Human Ecology

Background/unmet need

Currently the world market of regenerated cellulose fibers is dominated by rayon fiber (accounting for approximately 95%) and Tencel® or lyocell fiber (only about 5% market share). The production of rayon fiber uses a chemical approach that generates a cellulose derivative called sodium cellulose xanthate. Because this chemical method requires a heavy use of sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid, environmental pollution by manufactured effluents becomes a serious concern.

Tencel®/lyocell fiber is a new generation of regenerated cellulose fiber that is produced using the non-derivatizing solvent N-methylmorpholine-N-oxide (NMMO). Because no chemical reactions occur and the NMMO solvent can be recycled during the production, Tencel®/lyocell fiber is known as a "green fiber." However, the limited production capacity and higher price of Tencel®/lyocell fiber is still a barrier for many end users.

With today’s stimulation of bio-based economy and the focus on renewable energy and fuel-efficient vehicles, carbon fiber is highly needed. This results in a substantially increasing demand for the regenerated cellulose fiber that is one of the three major precursor fibers for carbon fiber manufacture. New technologies for producing regenerated cellulose fibers with eco-friendly approaches and non-wood biomass resources have become essential.  

Invention Description

This invention is about a new method to make regenerated pure cellulose fiber and nanoparticle-modified cellulose fibers using wood, bagasse, and other renewable celluloses. The technology includes a use of a special solvent for the formation of cellulose solution and a continuous cellulose fiber spinning line under an ambient room condition. The technology also covers the fabrication of bagasse pulp and biopolymer composites from the raw cellulose and different nanoparticles.

Benefits/Advantages

  • Utilization of agricultural residues to reduce the consumption of forest resources
  • Environmentally friendly fiber spinning process (no chemical reactions and no effluents)
  • Low energy consumption
  • Capability to produce nanoparticle-enhanced cellulose fibers

Features

  • It enables to convert bagasse and other lignocellulose agricultural residues into regenerated cellulose fiber with a simple and eco-friendly approach.
  • It allows incorporating different nanoparticles into ionic liquid solvent systems, so that functional regenerated bagasse cellulose fiber can be produced.
  • It is a low carbon footprint approach for manufacturing new rayon fiber with low energy consumption, zero effluents, and safer operation.

Market potential/applications

The developed cellulose fibers can be used for diverse textile and apparel applications like rayon and Tencel®/lyocell fibers. Furthermore, the new cellulose fibers can also be used for high-end applications in other industrial sectors including carbon fiber manufacture, personal care, medical care, and military end uses. 

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 1 U.S. patent application filed