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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 #368431

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

Location: Plant Polymer Research

Title: Evaluation of composite films containing poly(vinyl alcohol) and cotton gin trash

item Biswas, Atanu
item Cheng, Huai
item Evangelista, Roque
item Hojilla-Evangelista, Milagros - Mila
item Boddu, Veera
item Kim, Sanghoon

Submitted to: Journal of Polymers and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/22/2020
Publication Date: 5/1/2020
Citation: Biswas, A., Cheng, H.N., Evangelista, R.L., Hojilla-Evangelista, M.P., Boddu, V.M., Kim, S. 2020. Evaluation of composite films containing poly(vinyl alcohol) and cotton gin trash. Journal of Polymers and the Environment. 28:1998-2007.

Interpretive Summary: In recent years, there has been increasing concern about the environmental impact of non-degradable plastics that accumulate in landfills or generate microplastics in the ocean. One solution is to replace some of the plastics with water-soluble and biodegradable materials. Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVOH) is water-soluble and biodegradable and a right candidate for this replacement. When PVOH is blended with an agro-based low-cost filler, the resulting composite is more cost-effective and still biodegradable. In this work, we have explored the use of cotton gin trash as a filler for PVOH. Cotton gin trash is a cheap byproduct of the cotton ginning process. We have discovered that we can make a composite film containing 60% cotton gin trash and 40% PVOH. In this way, we can enhance the value of U.S. agricultural by-products (thus benefiting U.S. farmers) and also help mitigate the plastic pollution problem.

Technical Abstract: The purpose of this work was to explore the possibility of using cotton gin trash (CGT) as an inexpensive and biodegradable filler for poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVOH). CGT was milled and screened to give fine particles, and the particles less than 150 um in size were used together with three PVOH polymers (with 1–20% vinyl acetate levels) to form composites. Up to 60% by weight of CGT could be incorporated into PVOH to form composite films. Relative to PVOH, these PVOH/CGT films showed reduced tensile strength and elongation at break but enhanced Young’s modulus. CGT was chemically modified through acetylation and succinylation; however, no significant improvement in mechanical properties was observed with these modifications, although acetylated CGT did exhibit somewhat improved elongation at break relative to unmodified CGT for the two PVOH polymers with higher vinyl acetate contents. Thus, for PVOH applications that need reduced cost but can tolerate decreased tensile strength and elongation, cotton gin trash can be used as a cost-effective filler.