Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Chemical Engineering


Douglas Bousfield

Committee Members

Mark Haggerty, David Neivandt, Mehdi Tajvidi, Sara Walton

Graduation Year

May 2020

Publication Date

Spring 5-2020


As humanity becomes aware of the environmental issues that come from plastics, substitutes for single-use plastic are needed. Straws, expanded polystyrene, and grocery bags especially have been placed under scrutiny, but there is a need to replace other single use plastics such as eating utensils and cup lids. In this thesis, the properties of cellulose nanofibrils and calcium carbonate mixtures are characterized to determine the feasibility of their use as a plastic replacement. Using cellulose nanofibrils poses two challenges: 1) it shrinks when dried causing difficulty in forming an object, and 2) it is produced in a 3 weight percent solids suspension leading to a lot of water to remove. Pressing the water out before drying the mixture decreases shrinkage and saves money in heating utilities. Additionally, pressing the water out of the mixture decreases the shrinkage when the utensils are dried. A techno-economic analysis was performed and it was found that using a continuous refining system and a paper-machine based process to make the utensils was found to be comparable to the cost of making plastic utensils. This thesis analyzes the dewatering of CNF and CaCO3 mixtures and the economics of creating utensils from them.