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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Commodity Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #279326

Title: Use of agricultural byproducts as fillers in polymer composites

item Cheng, Huai
item Biswas, Atanu

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2012
Publication Date: 6/9/2012
Citation: Cheng, H.N., Biswas, A. 2012. Use of agricultural byproducts as fillers in polymer composites (abstract). International Symposium on Polymer Analysis and Characterization. Paper No. CL-29.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: A recent trend in polymer research is to use natural renewable materials as "green" raw materials for industrial applications. One of the applications pursued by the authors is to produce polymeric composites consisting of a polymer and an agricultural byproduct or waste. In this way, there is no cost in the disposal of the agricultural waste, and the filler can actually lower the cost of the polymer. The authors have examined the possibility of using cotton byproducts, nutshells from pistachio, almond and walnut, and common beans as potential fillers for composites in poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and low density polyethylene (LDPE). PLA is a biodegradable polymer that has found application as sutures, stents, dialysis media, and drug delivery devices. LDPE is a high-volume industrial polymer that has numerous uses, such as packaging, tubing, plastic wraps, and various molded equipment and parts. We have prepared the appropriate polymeric composites by melt blending and extrusion. For both PLA and LDPE, filler addition slightly changes the composite’s thermal properties but significantly reduces the composite’s mechanical properties. Drying the filler prior to extrusion results in composites with better tensile strength and Young’s modulus. The use of maleic anhydride and peroxide tends to improve the mechanical properties of LDPE, but the effect on PLA is variable. The PLA-filler composites may be used to lower the cost of polymers in applications that can tolerate the reduced properties. The addition of agricultural fillers to LDPE might be beneficial in applications that require lower cost, improved stiffness, or enhanced biodegradability.