In general, the electro-spinning of lignin requires it to be functionalised and/or blended with synthetic or natural polymers. This paper reports on the use of solvent fractionated lignin-lignin blend to electro-spin BioChoice softwood Kraft lignin. The blend consisted of acetone-soluble and ethanol-soluble lignin in a binary solvent of acetone and DMSO. Solvent fractionation was used to purify lignin where the ash content was reduced in the soluble lignin fractions from 1.24 to ~ 0.1%. The corresponding value after conventional acid-washing in sulphuric acid was 0.34%. A custom-made electro-spinning apparatus was used to produce the nano-fibres. Heat treatment procedures were developed for drying the electro-spun fibres prior to oxidation and carbonisation; this was done to prevent fibre fusion. The lignin fibres were oxidised at 250 °C, carbonised at 1000 °C, 1200 °C and 1500 °C. The cross-section of the fibres was circular and they were observed to be void-free. The longitudinal sections showed that the fibres were not fused. Thus, this procedure demonstrated that solvent fractionated lignin can be electro-spun without using plasticisers or polymer blends using common laboratory solvents and subsequently carbonised to produce carbon fibres with a circular cross-section.
Bibliographical note© 2021. The Author(s).
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