Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Plant Polymer Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #398425

Research Project: New and Improved Co-Products from Specialty Crops

Location: Plant Polymer Research

Title: Improved hydroxypropyl methylcellulose films through incorporation of amylose-N-1-hexadecylammonuium chloride inclusion complexes

item Selling, Gordon
item Hay, William
item Evans, Kervin
item Peterson, Steven - Steve
item Utt, Kelly

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/25/2023
Publication Date: 1/28/2023
Citation: Selling, G.W., Hay, W.T., Evans, K.O., Peterson, S.C., Utt, K.D. 2023. Improved hydroxypropyl methylcellulose films through incorporation of amylose-N-1-hexadecylammonuium chloride inclusion complexes. Industrial Crops and Products. 194. Article 116352.

Interpretive Summary: Cellulose, commonly obtained from wood or farm crops, is the most abundant natural polymer. In order to increase its value, cellulose can be chemically modified. One such modification creates a polymer called hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose (HPMC). Unlike cellulose, HPMC is soluble in water. This allows HPMC to be used in new end-uses such as film packaging. The use of HPMC in packaging applications can be increased by decreasing the impact of heat or water on the HPMC or by providing the HPMC film with the ability to kill microbes that may hurt people. An additive based on corn starch, called HexAM, was blended with HPMC to produce clear colorless films. These films had good physical properties, but more importantly the impact of heat and water was reduced, and the surface of the film resisted the growth of a select bacteria and fungi. This blended film that uses renewable materials will be useful to those companies involved with producing films for packaging, corn growers, and the general consumer.

Technical Abstract: In order to replace petroleum based films used in food packaging, improved biobased options are needed. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) has value, but in terms of oxygen and water vapor permeability it is deficient. Blended films were produced using HPMC and amylose-N-1-hexadecylammonium chloride inclusion complex (HexAM) that required no plasticizer. The resulting blended films were clear, had little color and had increased product value relative to the control. With the addition of the HexAM, the crystallinity of the film increased as seen by x-ray diffraction spectra. By SEM the surfaces of the films were relatively smooth by scanning electron microscopy. However, atomic force microscopy demonstrated that the control films were smoother (roughness 1.2 nm rms), relative to the 50 % HexAM blend films (roughness 29.9 nm rms). In the infrared spectra (IR) certain peaks, such as the hydrated water and glycosidic bond peaks, either increased or decreased in a liner fashion with incorporation of HexAM. Using microscopic IR, it was shown that the surfaces of the films were chemically homogeneous on a 1.56 µm scale. Tensile strength and elongation decreased slightly with increasing HexAM. However, increasing the HexAM provided increased thermal durability as evidenced by a reduction in the loss of modulus with heating. This attribute will have value in the market. The addition of HexAM decreased the permeation of oxygen and water vapor through the films and made the film surface more hydrophobic. These characteristics will resolve deficiencies in HPMC and allow it to enter new markets. In limited testing, the HexAM containing films provided microbial and thermal resistance. For control HPMC films, gas permeability, water sensitivity and poor thermal stability limit the applications of HPMC.