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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Injection Molded Hybrid Composites Based on Corn Fibers and Poly(vinyl Alcohol).

Authors
item Cinelli, Patrizia - IDR-INSTM PISA, ITALY
item Lawton Jr, John
item Gordon, Sherald
item Imam, Syed
item Chiellini, Emo - IDR-INSTM PISA, ITALY

Submitted to: Macromolecular Symposium
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 20, 2003
Publication Date: July 20, 2003
Citation: Cinelli, P., Lawton, Jr J.W., Gordon, S.H., Imam, S.H., Chiellini, E. 2003. Injection moled hybrid composites based on corn fibers and poly(vinyl alchol). Macromolecular Symposium. (197)115-124.

Interpretive Summary: Industrial processing of commodity crops generate tremendous amount of low-value fiber of limited application. Renewable fibers could be an excellent source of raw material for the engineering of single-use biodegradable consumer products, but their chemical and mechanical, as well as processing properties need to be characterized before hand. This research has shown that corn-fiber could be blended with other biodegradable polymer to engineer injection-molded composites of improved property. Utilization of agriculturally derived waste fibers in consumer products will help farmers and grain processors, and provides an alternative to petrochemicals.

Technical Abstract: On going research cooperation between USDA and the University of Pisa, Italy has yielded several composite blends of poly(vinyl alcohol)(PVA) and corn fibers (CF). The USA is the largest producer of ethanol from cereal grains. Composites based on natural fibers alone are extremely sensitive to water. Their mechanical properties deteriorated upon the absorption of water, thus suggesting a limited usefulness of such formulations in practical applications. In this study, corn-fiber produced during the wet milling process of corn for fuel ethanol were used to prepare composites. CF and PVA were processed in variable amounts in the presence of both dry/fluid plasticizers, such as glycerol and pentaerythritol. Composites prepared with CF in combination with PVA showed little change in their mechanical properties even after conditioning at variable relative humidities, as well as complete soaking in water. Composites tested after storage for one year under 50% relative humidity and 23 degree C exhibited mechanical properties similar to those of freshly prepared cpmposites. Cornstarch was introduced in the formulation for the purpose of reducing the cost of the final product and to further increase the composition of natural components in the composites. Addition of starch moderately reduced mechanical properties of the composites.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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