Automated trackspinning of aligned lignin fibers as precursors of green carbon nanofibers

Dave Jao, Abigail Heinz, Joseph F. Stanzione, Vince Z. Beachley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


At present, most carbon fibers are made from non-renewable polyacrylonitrile. Substantial efforts have been made to replace petroleum-based precursors for carbon fiber production. Interestingly, lignin is a carbon fiber precursor material that is cheap, highly available and sustainable. Submicron-scale lignin-based carbon nanofibers are used in numerous areas, such as electronic devices, batteries, supercapacitors and low-cost, high-performance structural composite materials. Trackspinning (TS) technology offers a way to scale up the versatile, but inefficient contact drawing technique to produce small-diameter lignin fibers from environmentally friendly aqueous solutions. In this study, the effects of TS based on probe drawing of low-concentration lignin nanofibers blended with poly(ethylene oxide) and glycerol in sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution were investigated. The TS lignin fibers were well aligned and reached diameters as small as 500–1000 nm as the drawing length was increased. Lignin fiber macromolecular alignment was isotropic at low levels of draw, and the dichroic ratio increased from 1 to 2.25 with doubling of the drawing length. The most highly drawn trackspun lignin fibers had a mechanical strength of 3.92 MPa and a Young’s modulus of 2.15 GPa, which were similar to reported values for solvent-electrospun lignin nanofibers. These findings support the potential to utilize TS to produce small-diameter lignin fibers using a simple aqueous solvent approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalGreen Materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 4 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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