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Mechanical and Rheological Properties of PHBV Bioplastic Composites Engineered with Invasive Plant Fibers

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 59(6): 1883-1891. (doi: 10.13031/trans.59.11523) @2016
Authors:   Sunny J. Modi, Katrina Cornish, Kurt W. Koelling, Yael Vodovotz
Keywords:   Invasive weed fiber (IWF), Mechanical, PHBV, Poly-(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate), Rheological natural-fiber composites.

Abstract. Environmental sustainability and the green movement are guiding the development of next-generation composites that can be used in place of current thermoplastics. Biopolymers with renewable biomass fillers can form novel eco-products that can compete with traditional thermoplastics that are based exclusively on petroleum feedstocks. This work focused on manufacturing novel green composites using a bacterial polyester (poly-(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate, or PHBV) combined with fibers from invasive wetlands plants such as common reed (), reed canary grass (), and water celery (). These novel composites were manufactured using traditional processing techniques of extrusion compounding followed by injection molding of ASTM type I parts. The effects of each biofiber type at 2%, 5%, and 10% loading on the mechanical and rheological properties of PHBV were investigated. When these properties were compared to pure PHBV, the composites showed improvements in Young‘s modulus, while limited changes were observed in tensile strength and elongation at break. Improvements in the viscosity at 170°C were observed with the addition of 10% biofibers by weight due to fiber-fiber and fiber-matrix interactions. The improvements in Young‘s modulus and complex viscosity broaden the narrow processing window of PHBV co-polymer by providing thermal stability within the processing equipment while maintaining mechanical properties.

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