Nano@Tech Spring 2022 Series | Advances in Cellulose Nanomaterial Utilization in Renewable Materials

Featuring Carson Meredith | School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology

Abstract: This talk will review several recent advances in utilizing cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) in commodity materials applications. The talk will focus on developments relevant to the coatings industry, particularly waterborne coatings utilized in latex paints as well as those useful as barrier coatings for packaging materials. Waterborne acrylic latexes are found in a large variety of commercial coating and paint products, but most of these products continue to contain volatile organic solvents (VOCs). I will present recent work that demonstrates who CNCs can be used as additives to waterborne acrylic formulations to displace the use of VOCs. Notably, because CNCs enable the development of hardness in otherwise soft acrylics, the VOC is no longer needed to enable film formation during the early drying stage. We have investigated two modes of addition of CNC: addition direct to the aqueous phase after the latex is produced and addition to the monomer phase prior to polymerization. In the latter case, the latex is then produced after CNC is dispersed in monomer droplets, by miniemulsion polymerization. This presentation will also feature research on the utilization of CNC dispersions as coatings on conventional polymer films such as PET and cellulose acetate, in order to impart high oxygen barrier properties to these films.

Bio:  Carson Meredith received a B.S. in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech (1993) and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Texas, Austin (1998). He was a postdoc at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) from 1998 - 2000 and joined the faculty in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech in 2000. His research interests are the application of colloid and polymer science principles to biomass-derived renewable and sustainable materials and efficient processing of biomass. His group has pioneered in the area of using chitin and cellulose to derive alternative packaging materials as substitutes for plastics. He is the Executive Director of Georgia Tech’s Renewable Bioproducts Institute, one of 10 interdisciplinary research institutes on the campus. In this role, he is catalyzing an interdisciplinary innovation community engaged in translational research in pulp, paper and packaging, circular materials from biomass, and bioindustrial manufacturing and biorefining. Meredith was Chief Editor for the journal Emergent Materials (Springer, 2018-2021).