(625a) Natural Fiber Composites Using Seed Hulls from Grain Processing | AIChE

(625a) Natural Fiber Composites Using Seed Hulls from Grain Processing


Kate, K., University of Louisville
Utilization of agriculture process residues (e.g., soy hulls from soybean processing; corn fiber from distilleries and ethanol plants; rice hulls from rice milling) for the production of sustainable and value-added co-products are critical for improving environment and bioeconomy. The hulls from grain processing are globally available in large volumes at a consistent quality. Their shipping, storage, and other logistics costs are more effectively manageable compared to other traditional biomass feedstocks.

In our studies funded by United Soybean Board (USB), our team at University of Louisville utilized soy hulls to separate and modify hull fibers for natural fiber composites; while simultaneously producing xylose (natural sugar) as a value added product. This approach not only reduced the cost of fibers; but also produced fibers that are more compatible with polymers which helped reduce air traps occurring at fiber-polymer interface leading to improved material properties of natural fiber composites. Using our integrated approach, with xylose (market value $3/kg) as a co-product, we expect the production cost of natural fiber composites to be competitive. Wide use of low cost, light weight, and high performing natural fiber composites in 3-D printing and injection molded automotive products can improve fuel efficiency and emission standards among the US automotive vehicles.