An Ionomeric Renewable Thermoplastic from Lignin-Reinforced Rubber

Sietske H. Barnes, Monojoy Goswami, Ngoc A. Nguyen, Jong K. Keum, Christopher C. Bowland, Jihua Chen, Amit K. Naskar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An ionomeric, leathery thermoplastic with high mechanical strength is prepared by a new thermal processing method from a soft, melt-processable rubber. Compositions made by incorporation of equal-mass lignin, a renewable oligomeric feedstock, in an acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber often yield weak rubbers with large lignin domains (1–2 µm). The addition of zinc chloride (ZnCl2) in such a composition based on sinapyl alcohol-rich lignin during a solvent-free synthesis induces a strong interfacial crosslinking between lignin and rubber phases. This compositional modification results in finely interspersed lignin domains (<100 nm) that essentially reinforce the rubbery matrix with a 10–22 °C rise in the glassy-to-rubbery transition temperature. The ion-modified polymer blends also show improved materials properties, like a 100% increase in ultimate tensile strength and an order of magnitude rise in Young's modulus. Coarse-grained molecular dynamics (MD) simulations verify the morphology and dynamics of the ionomeric material. The computed result also confirms that the ionomers have glassy characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1900059
JournalMacromolecular Rapid Communications
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • ionomeric thermoplastic
  • lignin
  • melt-rheology
  • molecular dynamics simulation
  • small-angle X-ray scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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