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Sustainable Biocomposites from ‘Green’ Plastics and Natural Fibers

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Title: Sustainable Biocomposites from ‘Green’ Plastics and Natural Fibers
Author: Nagarajan, Vidhya
Department: School of Engineering
Program: Engineering
Advisor: Mohanty, Amar
Abstract: This study involves the fabrication and performance evaluation of injection molded biomass based biocomposites. The matrix material chosen for this study was a preblend of poly (3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) and poly (butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT). In the first part of the study, the effect of incorporation of switchgrass at loading levels of 20 to 40 wt% was investigated. The hydrophobic-hydrophilic disparity between the matrix and fiber was solved by the addition of compatibilizer, poly diphenylmethane diisocyanate (pMDI). Loading levels of pMDI at 0.5, 0.75 and 1 parts per hundred (phr) were investigated. (PHBV-PBAT) matrix with 30 wt% switchgrass compatibilized by 0.75 phr pMDI resulted in the highest tensile properties and heat deflection temperature. In a second part, the potential of various biomass fibers including agricultural residues like soy stalk, corn stalk, wheat straw and other perennial grasses like miscanthus were explored as reinforcing filler for (PHBV-PBAT) at 30 wt% fiber loading. All the composites using different fiber types exhibited improved modulus performance and showed significant increase in heat deflection temperature (HDT). This study has revealed prospects for hybrid composite fabrication to further enhance the performance of the composites.
Date: 2012-08
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