Location: Bioproducts ResearchTitle: Poly-(Epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL) and poly(hydroxy-butyrate) (PHB) blends containing seaweed fibers: Morphology and thermal-mechanical properties Author
Submitted to: Journal of Polymer Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/12/2010
Publication Date: 10/5/2010
Publication URL: http://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pola.24327/pdf
Citation: Barghini, A., Ivanova, V.I., Imam, S.H., Chiellini, E. 2010. Poly-(Epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL) and poly(hydroxy-butyrate) (PHB) blends containing seaweed fibers: Morphology and thermal-mechanical properties. Journal of Polymer Science. 48:5282-5288. Interpretive Summary: Massive quantities of marine seaweed are washed onto shores and accumulates as waste. Utilization of this waste material as a renewable resource to make composite packaging or building materials would eliminate some of the negative impact on the environment by reducing the amount of petrochemicals needed to manufacturer such composites. We compression-molded two biodegradable polymers with seaweed fibers to produce films as potential packaging materials. We then examined the physical, morphological and mechanical properties of the films. The seaweed fibers were well dispersed throughout the film and had considerable cohesion with the biodegradable polymers tested. About 50% seaweed content seemed to be an ideal concentration. The addition of seaweed improved the some of the mechanical properties of the blended composites and created a loss in elongation and tensile strength. Fiber content above 40% impacted tensile property negatively and composites with over 70% fiber were too fragile. Data suggest that seaweed fiber is compatible with both polymers we tested and is processable as fillers in hybrid blends.
Technical Abstract: Massive quantities of marine seaweed, Ulva armoricana are washed onto shores of many European countries and accumulates as waste. Attempts were made to utilize this renewable resource in hybrid composites by blending the algal biomass with biodegradable polymers such as poly(hydroxy-butyrate) and poly-(-caprolactone). Compression-molded films were developed and examined for their morphological, thermal and mechanical property. The Ulva fibers were well dispersed throughout the continous matrix exhibiting considerable cohesion with both polymers. Occasionally, regions with exposed fibres or aggregates were visible. About 50% algal content seemed to be an ideal concentration, thereafter, thermal stability was impacted. A progressive decrease in melting heat (IHm) was observed with increased algal content as well as a decrease in the crystallinity of the polymer matrix due to the presence of the organic filler. The addition of algal fibres improved the Young modulus of the blends, creating a concomitant loss in percent elongation (El) and ultimate tensile strength. Fiber content above 40% impacted tensile property negatively and composites with over 70% fiber contents composites were too fragile. Data suggest that macro algae are compatible with both polymers and processable as fillers in hybrid blends.