Green composites reinforced with hemp nanocrystals in plasticized starch.

Cao, X.D., Chen, Y., Chang, P.R., Stumborg, M., and Huneault, M.A. (2008). "Green composites reinforced with hemp nanocrystals in plasticized starch.", Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 109(6), pp. 3804-3810. doi : 10.1002/app.28418  Access to full text


New nanocomposite films were prepared from a mixed suspension of hemp cellulose nanocrystals (HCNs) and thermoplastic starch, or plasticized starch (PS), by the casting and evaporating method. The morphology, thermal behavior, mechanical properties, and water sensitivity of the films were investigated by means of scanning electron microscopy, wide-angle X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry, tensile testing, contact angle measurements, and water absorption. The results indicate that the cellulose nanocrystals dispersed in the PS matrix homogeneously and resulted in an increase in the glass-transition temperature ascribed to the fact that the flexibility of the starch molecular chains in the starch-rich phase was reduced because of the strong intermolecular interactions between the starch and stiff HCNs. The films exhibited significant increases in the tensile strength and Young's modulus, from 3.9 to 11.5 MPa and from 31.9 to 823.9 MPa, respectively, with increasing HCN content from 0 to 30 wt %. In addition to the improvement in mechanical properties, the incorporation of HCNs into the PS matrix also led to a decrease in the water sensitivity of the final composite materials. Therefore, the HCNs played an important role in improving the mechanical properties and water resistance of the starch-based material.