This module presents the nanotechnologies, processes, and methods being developed to produce strong and stiff cellulose nanofibers. The module is designed to take the student through processing a material (called feed stock or substrate) to break down and extract cellulose fibrils. A pulp is created from recycled newspaper, a special enzyme is added, and then the substance is processed further by spinning, screening, and curing, to produce a cellulose nanofiber paper with varying fiber orientations and changes in properties such as rigidity and stiffness. Hands-on activities include processing and creating cellulose nanofiber paper and observing samples for changes in rigidity and /stiffness.
Module Resources and Documents
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List of Required Materials
The full list of items needed for this module is below. Note that materials for DIY modules are not available through Nano-Link or the Nano-Infusion program.
- 5 gal bucket
- Screened frame, 6” x 6” minimum
- Unframed screen (same size as screen frame)
- Pan, must be larger than the screened frame and deep enough to submerge the screen
- Fibrillation medium/agent (enzyme): Alpha amylase
- Digital scale, tabletop type such as a kitchen/food scale
- Test tubes
- Paper towels or other absorbent material to lay sample on to dry
- Latex gloves and safety glasses, aprons optional
Additional supplies if monitoring pH or temperature:
- pH meter, or
- pH test strips, available from pool supply stores. (Lignin-degrading enzymes generally function best under slightly acidic or neutral pH, but the most common pulping reactions and recycled fiber processes are alkaline.)
- Thermometer – the type used in cooking (ideal temperature is room temp).