Effect of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) on rheological and mechanical properties and crystallization behavior of PLA/CNC nanocomposites.Carbohydr Polym. 2015 Jun 05; 123:105-14.CP
In earlier work, we reported that spray freeze drying of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) yields porous agglomerate structures. On the other hand, the conventional spray dried CNC (CNCSD) and the freeze dried CNC (CNCFD) produce compact solid structures with very low porosity. As it is rather difficult to obtain direct microscopic evidence of the quality of dispersion of CNC in polymer nanocomposites, it was shown that supporting evidence of the quality and influence of dispersion in a polypropylene (PP)/CNC nanocomposite could be obtained by studying the rheological behavior, mechanical properties and crystallization characteristics of PP/CNC nanocomposites. In an effort to produce a sustainable, fully biosourced, biodegradable nanocomposite, this manuscript presents the results of a study of the rheological, mechanical and crystallization behavior of PLA/CNCSFD nanocomposites obtained by melt processing. The results are analyzed to determine CNC network formation, rheological percolation threshold concentrations, mechanical properties in the rubbery and glassy states, and the effect of CNCSFD on crystalline nucleation and crystallization rates of PLA. These results suggest that the porosity and network structure of CNCSFD agglomerates contribute significantly to good dispersion of CNC in the PLA matrix.