Reducing Biochar Particle Size with Nanosilica and Its Effect on Rubber Composite Reinforcement

  • Steven C. PetersonEmail author
  • Sanghoon Kim
Original Paper


Since biochar is a renewable source of carbon, it has been examined as a substitute for carbon black as rubber composite filler. Although biochar can approach carbon black in terms of carbon and ash content, substituting carbon black with biochar typically degrades the mechanical properties of rubber composites because of the much larger particle size of biochar. Biochar is produced from biomass and must be size reduced by “top-down” methods such as milling. Thus, biochar frequently has populations of particles greater than 10 µm in diameter, which greatly reduce reinforcement properties by introducing localized stresses in the rubber composite. In this work we explore using nanosilica as a co-milling material with biochar as a means to reduce its particle size and consequently improve its ability to replace carbon black as rubber composite filler. Biochar co-milled with 1 wt% nanosilica was able to replace 40% of the carbon black filler in a styrene–butadiene rubber composite with virtually no loss in tensile strength. Also, elongation and toughness properties of the optimal biochar substituted composites were improved by over 31 and 24%, respectively.


Biochar Nanosilica Carbon black Milling SBR Composite Tensile strength 



The authors would like to thank A.J. Thomas for density measurements, CHN analysis, composite preparation, and tensile measurements. Jason Adkins provided ash content data and Arthur Thompson obtained the SEM images.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plant Polymer Research, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Agricultural Research ServiceUnited States Department of AgriculturePeoriaUSA

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