The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the development of nanocellulose filaments for a variety of thermal management applications. With high thermal conductivity, the filaments (threads) may be used to develop thermally conductive functional apparel fabrics potentially used for athleisure and industrial apparel brands. Currently, end-consumers such as athletes, workout enthusiasts, fire fighters, and soldiers suffer from insufficient thermoregulation of apparel fabrics. The demand for printed circuit board products has increased exponentially due to the rapid development of higher performance computers and smart electronic devices. The filaments also may be integrated into the manufacturing process of printed circuit boards with capabilities of directional cooling. The societal impact of this filament technology is its sustainability. Currently, 60% of materials in textiles are derived from petro-chemicals. However, the proposed technology is mainly converted from sustainable plant biomass so the starting material is more sustainably sourced.
This I-Corps project is based on the development of nanocellulose filaments with high thermal conductivity. The proposed technology consists of cellulose nanofibers and boron nitride nanotubes that are uniformly dispersed through the microfluidizer process. The filaments are fabricated via wet spinning of the suspension of cellulose nanofibers and boron nitride nanotubes in a coagulation bath. The high thermal conductivity of the filaments is attributed to high intrinsic thermal conductivities of boron nitride nanotubes and cellulose nanofibers as well as low interfacial thermal resistance due to the strong interaction between them.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.