Triethyl citrate (TEC) as a dispersing aid in polylactic acid/chitin nanocomposites prepared via liquid-assisted extrusion
Herrera, Natalia; Singh, Anshu Anjali; Salaberria , Asier M.; Labidi, Jalel; Mathew, Aji P.; Oksman, Kristiina (2017-08-31)
Herrera, N.; Singh, A.A.; Salaberria, A.M.; Labidi, J.; Mathew, A.P.; Oksman, K. Triethyl Citrate (TEC) as a Dispersing Aid in Polylactic Acid/Chitin Nanocomposites Prepared via Liquid-Assisted Extrusion. Polymers 2017, 9, 406. doi:10.3390/polym9090406
© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
The production of fully bio-based and biodegradable nanocomposites has gained attention during recent years due to environmental reasons; however, the production of these nanocomposites on the large-scale is challenging. Polylactic acid/chitin nanocrystal (PLA/ChNC) nanocomposites with triethyl citrate (TEC) at varied concentrations (2.5, 5.0, and 7.5 wt %) were prepared using liquid-assisted extrusion. The goal was to find the minimum amount of the TEC plasticizer needed to enhance the ChNC dispersion. The microscopy study showed that the dispersion and distribution of the ChNC into PLA improved with the increasing TEC content. Hence, the nanocomposite with the highest plasticizer content (7.5 wt %) showed the highest optical transparency and improved thermal and mechanical properties compared with its counterpart without the ChNC. Gel permeation chromatography confirmed that the water and ethanol used during the extrusion did not degrade PLA. Further, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy showed improved interaction between PLA and ChNC through hydrogen bonding when TEC was added. All results confirmed that the plasticizer plays an important role as a dispersing aid in the processing of PLA/ChNC nanocomposites.
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