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Latex polymer composites modified with nanocellulose

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The PhD thesis aims at the synthesis of cellulose based nanocomposites from water-based emulsion polymers and nanocellulose. The nanocomposites will be evaluated regarding their use as  coatings, (textile coating, paper coating or masonry/wood coating), or as an additive for concrete.  The first step will be the synthesis of water-based latex polymers from acrylate monomers by emulsion polymerization. This involves use of surfactants of various type, as well as various type initiators. Biobased and renewable monomers will also be used, to allow the production of sustainable latex polymers. In the second step,  nanocellulose will be added to the reaction, with the aim to obtain nanocomposite latex dispersions.  These should be incorporated in the formed dispersion particles during the polymerisation. This step will include chemical modification of the nanocellulose. To form homogenous nanocomposites, the nanocellulose should be successfully dispersed in the reaction media. Moreover, optimized compatibility between the nanocellulose and the polymer guaranties the homogeneity of the final product in the drying process when the coating is formed. Based on previous research and published articles, it seems that incorporation of nanocellulose would be more beneficial if it is added during in situ polymerization. The third step includes application testing of the obtained latexes. The procedures and characterization methods for the selected application type will be decided later.

The PhD project will particularly study process parameters such as used monomers, type surfactants and initiators, temperature and reaction time, nanocellulose pre-treatment and type of nanocellulose.

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