Mechanically strong all-cellulose composites are very attractive in the terms of fully bio-based and bio-degradable materials. Unidirectional flax-based all-cellulose composites are prepared via facile room-temperature impregnation with an ionic liquid, 1-ethyl-3-methyl imidazolium acetate. To determine the optimal processing conditions, the kinetics of flax dissolution in this solvent is first studied using optical microscopy. Composite morphology, crystallinity, density, the volume fraction of cellulose II and tensile properties are investigated, indicating that flax dissolution should be within certain limits. On the one hand, the amount of cellulose II formed through dissolution and coagulation should be high enough to “fuse” flax fibers, resulting in a density increase. On the other hand, only the surface layer of the fibers should be dissolved to maintain the strength provided by the inner secondary layer and avoid a detrimental decrease in crystallinity. The highest Young’s modulus and strength, 10.1 GPa and 151.3 MPa, respectively, are obtained with a crystallinity of 43% and 20 vol% of cellulose II.
- natural fibers
- ionic liquid
- mechanical properties
- structure-property correlations