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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Plant Polymer Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345147

Research Project: Conversion of Polysaccharides and Other Bio-based Materials to High-Value, Commercial Products

Location: Plant Polymer Research

Title: Evaluation of the properties of cellulose ester films that incorporate essential oils

item Biswas, Atanu
item BASTOS, M.S. - Embrapa
item FURTADO, R. - Embrapa
item Kuzniar, Gary
item Boddu, Veera
item Cheng, Huai

Submitted to: International Journal of Polymer Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/24/2020
Publication Date: 5/21/2020
Citation: Biswas, A., Bastos, M.R., Furtado, R.F., Kuzniar, G.M., Boddu, V.M., Cheng, H.N. 2020. Evaluation of the properties of cellulose ester films that incorporate essential oils. International Journal of Polymer Science. Article ID 4620868.

Interpretive Summary: Cellulose is the earth's most abundant biopolymer and is of tremendous economic importance. Cellulose products include paper, textiles, construction materials, and cellulose derivatives, such as cellulose acetate. It is estimated that annually 1.5 billion pounds of cellulose acetate are manufactured globally. There is a need to expand the uses of cellulose acetate, especially in food-related areas because of the size of the market and the relevance to consumers. This study indicates that EO-embedded cellulose ester films are particularly suitable for food packaging that requires low water vapor exchanges and decreased sensitivity to light. Farmers may benefit from this research since this work potentially expands the applications of cellulose acetate, which is derived from cellulose from agricultural resources.

Technical Abstract: Films made from cellulose esters are often used as bio-based food packaging materials. In this work, we studied the incorporation of nine essential oils into cellulose acetate, cellulose acetate propionate, and cellulose acetate butyrate. The essential oils were derived from lime, nutmeg, eugenol, pimenta berry, rosemary, petitgrain, coffee, anise, and trans-cinnamaldehyde. In almost all cases, the addition of essential oils to cellulose ester reduced tensile strength and Young’s modulus but increased elongation at break. Thus, an essential oil acted like a plasticizer that enhanced the flexibility of the polymer. Essential oils containing limonene and pinenes (e.g., from lime and nutmeg) gave the strongest plasticizing action, whereas essentials oils containing fatty acids (e.g., from coffee) were the weakest plasticizers. The water barrier property was improved the most when essential oils were added to cellulose acetate; however, different cellulose ester/essential oil combinations showed different effects. Whereas most of the essential oils decreased the transparency of the films, eugenol, pimento berry, and anise were notable exceptions. Thus, depending on a specific application, a particular polymer/EO combination can be used to give the optimal performance.