Principal investigator: Kevin Turner

University: University of Pennsylvania

Industry partners: Penn Color, Inc.

Cellulose nanomaterials (CNMs) are derived from natural sources and have high strength and stiffness per weight. A key challenge in manufacturing bulk materials from CNMs is that they are produced in aqueous solutions with low concentrations of solids and thus a significant amount of water (>97% of the solution by weight) must be removed to form bulk solid materials comprised of CNMs. This water removal and drying process often results in significant stresses and distortion of the material. The Turner group at the University of Pennsylvania has recently demonstrated that additive manufacturing can be used to fabricate materials comprised of 100% cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) with unprecedented thicknesses as well as high stiffness and strength.

The objective of the proposed research is to investigate the additive manufacturing of filled CNF materials. Combining CNFs with inorganic fillers, such as kaolin, increases the solid content of the inks being used in printing, leading to faster drying rates. Furthermore, fillers reduce the cost of the printed materials as fillers are less expensive than CNFs. During this project, the Turner Group at the University of Pennsylvania will collaborate with Penn Color, Inc. a manufacturer of additives and polymers in Hatfield, PA. Penn Color has significant experience with fine particle technologies (tens of nanometers to several microns) and has deep expertise in dispersion technologies and drying processes. This project will result in direct collaboration between students at U. Pennsylvania and technical staff at Penn Color, Inc.