Poly(vinyl alcohol) freeze casts with nano-additives as potential thermal insulators
Freeze-casting consists of freezing a liquid suspension (aqueous or other), followed by sublimation of the solidified state to the gas state under reduced pressure, and subsequent sintering of the remaining scaffold to consolidate and densify the struts and walls. The structure is very porous with the pores being a replica of the solvent crystals. The technique is rather versatile and the use of a liquid solvent (water most of the time) as a pore forming agent is a strong asset. Freeze-casting has also been developed as a near net shape forming route yielding dense ceramics. In this work we report on porous composite materials synthesized via the ice templating method. Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) is used as matrix and nano-silica (SiO2), nanoclay (NC) and microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) are used as fillers to improve the mechanical stability of the PVA scaffold. We show our results on the porosity and mechanical stability and consider these porous nanocomposites as potential insulation materials with low thermal conductivity and superior mechanical properties.