Nicharat A.,Adolphe Merkle InstituteUniversity of FribourgChemin des Verdiers 41700 Fribourg Switzerland |
Shirole A.,Adolphe Merkle InstituteUniversity of FribourgChemin des Verdiers 41700 Fribourg Switzerland |
Foster E.J.,Macromolecules Innovation Institute445 Old Turner Street |
Weder C.,Adolphe Merkle InstituteUniversity of FribourgChemin des Verdiers 41700 Fribourg Switzerland
Journal of Applied Polymer Science | Year: 2017
Building blocks made from renewable sources attract increasing attention for the design of new polymer systems. Recently, in this particular context, cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) have gained great interest in both academic research and industry, mainly on account of their ability to reinforce range of polymer matrices and afford nanocomposites with attractive mechanical properties. The limited thermal stability of conventionally produced cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) has, however, so far limited the range of polymers that could be used as basis for melt-processed CNC nanocomposites. We herein show that a commercially accessible nanocrystal source, a particular grade of microcrystalline cellulose (MCC), can easily be converted into thermally stable CNCs by ultrasonication in phosphoric acid. A scalable melt-mixing process was used to produce nanocomposites of these CNCs with a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) elastomer. A significant improvement of the room temperature storage modulus from 40 MPa (neat polymer) to 120 MPa (10% w/w CNC) was observed. The introduction of CNCs not only increased the stiffness of the polymer matrix, but also improved the shape memory properties of the nanocomposite. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.