Cassava starch-based films plasticized with sucrose and inverted sugar and reinforced with cellulose nanocrystals.J Food Sci. 2012 Jun; 77(6):N14-9.JF
Bionanocomposites films of cassava starch plasticized with sucrose and inverted sugar and reinforced by cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) were prepared by solution casting method incorporating 0.1 to 5 wt% of eucalyptus CNCs. The nanocrystals were characterized using transmission electron microscopy, whereas the bionanocomposites properties were studied using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, tensile measurements, water solubility, swelling behavior, and water activity (a(w)). The water resistance properties (solubility and swelling behavior) of the nanocomposites were enhanced with the addition of cellulose nanofillers. These results were explained in terms of the high crystallinity of the nanocrystals and the formation of a rigid network with the nanofillers, which provide physical barriers to the permeation of water within the hydrophilic cassava matrix. The addition of CNCs in the bionanocomposites decreases a(w) linearly, reaching values below 0.5 (for CNCs concentration higher than 4 wt%), a reference value for no microbial proliferation for food product design. The presence of small concentrations of CNCs (0.1-0.3 wt%) also effectively increased the maximum tensile strength (more than 90%) and elastic modulus (more than 400%), indicating the formation of a suitable percolation network in this concentration range. Because the cellulose nanofillers enhanced the mechanical and water stability properties of the nanocomposites, the obtained results in this work may be applied to the development of biodegradable packaging or coatings to enhance shelf life of food products.
The main drawbacks of using starch-based polymers as packaging or coating in the food industry are their low mechanical properties and inherent water sensitivity. This study demonstrates that cellulose nanocrystals can be used to: (i) obtain better mechanical properties (increasing the tensile strength and modulus more than 90% and 400%, respectively; (ii) enhance the water stability and (iii) water activity of starch-based films. These results indicate that the obtained environmentally friendly nanocomposites in this work can be used to the development of films or coatings to enhance the shelf life of food products.