Bagasse-thermoplastic biocomposites

Bagasse has been used as reinforcing filler in different thermoplastic matrices such as poly(eth — ylene-co-vinyl acetate) (or EVA) [152153], polyolefins [154155] and starch-based biodegrad­able polyester [140141, 156157]. The effect of cultivar type and surface cleaning of the bagasse fiber on the tensile properties of the bagasse-EVA composites have been investigated [152]. The results suggested that blends of bagasse from various cultivars can be used for commercial applications of these composites. Also, the surface cleaning of the bagasse obtained from sugar mill was good enough to use the bagasse without further surface treatment. Another study on the impact behavior of the bagasse-EVA composites showed that the mechanical performance of this type of composites could be tailored by varying the bagasse volume fraction in order to reproduce the behavior of wood-based particleboards [153]. Luz et al. [154] explored the efficiency of two different processing methods, injection molding and compression molding, to produce bagasse-polypropylene (PP) composite. They found that the injection molding under vacuum process was more efficient and created homogeneous distribution of fibers without blisters. It was observed that bagasse incorporation into PP improved the flexural modulus. High density polyethylene (HDPE) was used as the matrix for incorporation of cellulose obtained from bagasse [155]. It has been reported that modification of bagasse cellulose with zirconium oxychloride helped in improving the tensile strength of the biocom­posite.

Bagasse fibers have been used to produce biocomposites from bagasse and biodegradable corn starch-based polyester which is reported as a blend of starch and polycaprolactone (PCL). The effects of volume fraction and fiber length were investigated and an optimum value for both factor were reported beyond which the decrease in mechanical performance was observed [140]. Also, it was reported that after alkali treatment of the bagasse fibers the improvement in fibre-matrix adhesion occurred that resulted in enhancement of mechanical properties [141]. Moreover, incorporation of bagasse fiber into the polyester matrix improved tensile as well as impact strength. Acetylated starch has been reinforced with bagasse fiber [156157]. The matrix in that case was a blend of starch, PCL and glycerol. It was observed that incorporation of alkali-treated bagasse fiber up to 15 wt% increased the tensile strength while it decreased when bagasse content was more than this value. Also, the water absorption of the composite was improved as the bagasse content increased due to hydrophobic nature of bagasse compared to acetylated starch.

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