Department - Author 1

Materials Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Materials Engineering



Primary Advisor

Trevor Harding, and Amro El Badawy


There is a growing shift within the construction materials industry towards green and sustainable building products. Spending in this area has increased 5 fold since 2011 to a total revenue of $70 billion. An area of particular interest has been aimed at replacing fiberglass batt insulation with cellulose. Cellulose is the most abundant polymer on earth, and has potential to replace petroleum derived insulations. This project explores the potential of selectively isolating cellulose by depolymerizing the support structures found in lignocellulosic materials – specifically lignin and hemicellulose. The current focus is on isolating cellulose from Cannibas sativa, but more specifically, industrial hemp. Previous studies have successfully delignified industrial hemp using chlorite as a nucleophile that can selectively dissolve lignin and hemicellulose, but not cellulose. However, no study to date has explored the effects of selective depolymerization and its effects on thermal insulation (R-value). By selectively dissolving support biopolymers away from cellulose, it should induce macro and nano sized pores within the cellulose matrix – a change that may increase thermal resistivity. The project has characterized depolymerized industrial hemp with materials characterization techniques such as: Scanning Electron Microscopy, Thermal Gravimetric Analysis, X-ray Diffraction, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy. Third party laboratory testing was conducted at RADCO Laboratories to determine insulating performance by adhering to ASTM C518. Untreated industrial hemp had an R value of 2.4 and the depolymerized hemp had an R value of 2.7