Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

John R. Collier


Structural reaction injection molding (SRIM) cellulosic/polyurethane composites were prepared from various forms of cellulosic mats, and elastomeric polyurea-urethane (PUU) and rigid polyurethane (PU) formulations. Mats (woven and non-woven) prepared from different sources of fibers with lignin content ranging from zero (cotton) to at least 10% (sugar cane and kenaf fibers) performed comparably in PUU/cellulosic composites. Young's modulus and tensile strength of PUU/cellulosic composites were doubled with 5% and 7% fiber loading respectively. Young's modulus and tensile strength of PU/cellulosic composites were improved by 300% and 30%, respectively, with 7% fiber loading, whereas their bending moduli and strengths were improved up to 100% and 50%, respectively, with 18% fiber loading. However, the mechanical properties of PU composites were more sensitive to the fiber properties and fiber macroscopic arrangements. The study with chemical ratio variations indicates that as the fiber loading increases, the cellulose hydroxyl presence starts shifting the chemical balance and thus should be accounted for. Mats prepared from sugar cane fibers extracted from rind with low alkali concentration (0.2 N) followed by steam explosion require lower injection pressures compared to the ones prepared from fiber obtained from higher alkali treatment (above 0.5 N) without steam explosion. Hence, the steam exploded mats are more suitable for SRIM purposes. The PU kinetics was studied using an adiabatic temperature rise method. An Arrhenius type empirical equation was used to fit the data. The fitted equation was second order to the partial conversion, and the gelling time at adiabatic condition is less than 5 seconds (much quicker than the 10 to 12 seconds in mold gel time quoted by the manufacturer). FORTRAN programs were written to solve the SRIM model based on Darcy's equation. The model incorporated heat transfer and chemical reaction. The modeling was intended to aid in interpreting in-mold pressure data obtained from mat permeability characterization. The model also has other wider applications such as mold design and SRIM and resin transfer molding (RTM) simulation. The model predicts some experimental data from this work and the literature satisfactorily.