Scalable Manufacturing Process and Multifunctional Performance of Cotton Fibre-Reinforced Poly(Lactic Acid) (PLA) Bio-Composites Coated by Graphene Oxide
Natural fibre biopolymer composites with both fibres and matrix being derived from biomaterials are increasingly used in demanding applications, such as sensing, packaging, building, and transport, and require good electrical, thermal, and flame retardant properties. Herein, an investigation of the effectiveness of functionalising nonwoven cotton/poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fibre mats with graphene oxide nanosheets has been reported by using a facile dip-coating method followed by thermal reduction for enhancing the electric, thermal, and abrasion-resistance properties. The manufacturing processes for preparing biocomposites and introducing functionality are readily scalable. Experimental results reveal that with the addition of less than 0.5 wt% graphene nanoplatelets, the biocomposites showed significant improvements in abrasion resistance, electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and diffusivity. Furthermore, the composite shows excellent piezo-resistivity to act as strain sensors with a gauge factor of 2.59 at strains up to 1%.