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Sustainable structural material for plastic substitute

Plastic gives us a lightweight, strong and inexpensive material to use, but it has also caused the plastic apocalypse. Much of the unrecycled plastic waste ends up in the ocean, Earth's last sink. Broken down by waves, sunlight and marine animals, a single plastic bag can become 1.75 million microplastic fragments. Those microplastics might finally end up in our bodies through the fish we eat or the water we drink. During the long-term evolution of most plants on the earth, cellulose-based materials have been developed as their own structural support materials. Cellulose in plants mainly exists in the form of cellulose nanofibers (CNF), which have excellent mechanical and thermal properties. CNF, which can be derived from plants or produced by bacteria, is one of the most abundant all-green resources on Earth. CNF is an ideal nanoscale building block for constructing macroscopic high-performance materials, as it has higher strength (2 GPa) and modulus (138 GPa) than Kevlar and steel and lower thermal expansion coefficient (0.1 ppm K-1) than silica glass. Based on this bio-based and biodegradable building block, the construction of sustainable and high-performance structural materials will greatly promote the replacement of plastic and help us avoid the plastic apocalypse.  Read more....

 

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