Master of Science in Engineering Science (MSES)


Engineering Science (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



Cotton is the most important textile fiber for apparel use and is preferred to synthetic fibers for reasons such as comfort and feel. Cotton may also be used to produce the regenerated cellulose fibers, such as lyocell and viscose, which have numerous textile applications. A major drawback of cotton, and other cellulosic fibers, is its inherent ability to burn. Many finishes have been developed to impart flame resistance to cotton. These finishes have limited use in textiles for apparel due to problems with the finish not being durable during laundering and increasing the susceptibility of the fabric to wear. Most of these finishes have been developed for products that are not laundered, such as drapery and furnishing fabrics. The development of cellulose/clay nanocomposites for use as flame retardant materials based on cotton is reported in this paper. These materials are designed to take advantage of the thermal stability and flame resistance imparted by silicate filler materials and should require no fire retardant finish. The use of cellulose/clay nanocomposites can allow for the use of natural fibers in applications which are currently limited to synthetic fibers. The use of cellulosic fibers as a feedstock for the composite materials makes use of renewable resources and reduces the use of harsh chemicals normally found in flame retardant materials and finishes. Novel nanocomposite materials have been produced from cellulose with layered silicate clays used as the nanofiller material. Three exfoliation and intercalation methods using different solvents and clay pretreatment techniques were attempted in production of these organic-inorganic hybrids. The method that resulted in superior cellulose/clay nanocomposites utilized a pretreatment of the clay and 4-methylmorpholine-N-oxide as the cellulose solvent. The nanocomposites show significant improvements in thermal properties when compared with cellulose control sources and cellulose processed under the conditions for nanocomposite preparation. The degradation temperature of the nanocomposites increased by 45 °C and the char yields for some compositions doubled those of the controls. The crystalline melt of the materials decreased by 15 °C.



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Committee Chair

Su-Seng Pang