A Biobased Multifaceted Polymeric Material: A Case for Poly(butylene succinate)
This study is an investigation into the adoption and use of bio-based poly(butylene succinate) (BioPBS) in a variety of applications. Polymers derived from biological monomers represent a new route to develop sustainable bio-based materials. BioPBS was combined with pyrolyzed miscanthus microparticles and graphene nanoplatelets to create a hybrid nano-biocomposite. Pyrolyzed biomass, known as biocarbon, was incorporated into BioPBS to improve the thermo-mechanical properties of the bioplastic while simultaneously increasing the value of this co-product. Two methods were used to incorporate graphene nanoplatelets into the blends resulting in different internal morphologies which subsequently impacted their thermos-mechanical properties. Composites processed using the direct compounding technique showed the greatest increase in tensile strength and modulus, 17 and 120% respectively. Composites processed using a masterbatch technique had slightly lower strength and modulus but almost twice the impact strength compared the direct compounding method. This masterbatch technique was found to have a superior balance of stiffness and toughness likely due to the presence of superclustered graphene platelets. BioPBS was also electrospun into fibers that have high porosity at the micro- and nano-scale resulting in a hierarchical structure that has sufficient mechanical properties for potential applications in wound healing and soft tissue engineering. In determining the optimal solution and electrospinning conditions, it was found that solution properties such as the solvent system, the grade of BioPBS, and the concentration of BioPBS had a significant effect on fiber morphology. An increase in BioPBS concentration resulted in the reduction of bead defects, which at 15 (%w/v) resulted in bead-free uniform fibers and increased the porosity of the fibers while reducing pore size. The aforementioned delve into various parameters affecting the polymer’s properties illustrate its potential for widespread use.