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01.02.2013 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 1/2013

Cellulose 1/2013

Development of continuous process enabling nanofibrillation of pulp and melt compounding

Zeitschrift:
Cellulose > Ausgabe 1/2013
Autoren:
Katsuhito Suzuki, Hiroaki Okumura, Kazuo Kitagawa, Shinji Sato, Antonio Norio Nakagaito, Hiroyuki Yano

Abstract

Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC), a mechanically fibrillated pulp mostly consisting of nanofibrils, is a very attractive material because of its high elastic modulus and strength. Although much research has been done on composites of MFC and polypropylene (PP), it has been difficult to produce such composites at an industrial level because of the difficulties in using MFC in such composites are not only connected to the polarity (that can be improved with compatibilizers), but also with the challenge to make a homogeneous blend of the components, and also the low temperature stability of cellulose that could cause problems during processing. We developed a new processing method which enables continuous microfibrillation of pulp and its melt compounding with PP. Never-dried kraft pulp and powdered PP were used as raw materials to obtain MFC by kneading via a twin-screw extruder. Scanning electron microscopy showed nano to submicron wide fibers entangled in the powdered PP. MFC did not aggregate during the melt compounding process, during which the water content was evaporated. Maleic anhydride polypropylene (MAPP) was used as a compatibilizer to reinforce interfacial adhesion between the polar hydroxyl groups of MFC and non-polar PP. We investigated the effect of MAPP content on the mechanical properties of the composite, which were drastically improved by MAPP addition. Needle-leaf unbleached kraft pulp (NUKP)-derived MFC composites had better mechanical properties than needle-leaf bleached kraft pulp (NBKP)-derived MFC composites. Injection molded NUKP-derived MFC composites had good mechanical and thermal properties. The tensile modulus of 50 wt% MFC composite was two times, and the tensile strength 1.5 times higher than that of neat PP. The heat distortion temperature of 50 wt% MFC content composite under 1.82 MPa flexural load was increased by 53 °C, from 69 to 122 °C. This newly developed continuous process using powder resin has the potential for application at an industrial level.

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