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About this book

The book summarizes in a comprehensive manner many of the recent technical research accomplishments in the area of natural polymers. It discusses the various attempts reporting on solving this problem from the point of view of the chemistry and the structure of natural polymers, highlighting the drawbacks and advantages of each method and proposal. Based on considerations of structure - property relations, it is possible to obtain fibers with improved strength by making use of their nanostructures and/or mesophase properties of natural polymers. The book is a unique book with contributions from the experts of the biomaterial area research. it covers all topics related to natural biomaterials such as natural rubber, cellulose, chitin, starch, hemicellulose, lignin, alginates, soy protein, casein and their bionanocomposites and applications. This book is a useful reference for scientists, academicians, research scholars and biotechnologists.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Natural Polymers: Their Blends, Composites and Nanocomposites: State of Art, New Challenges and Opportunities

Abstract
The present chapter deals with a brief account on various types of natural polymers such as cellulose, chitin, starch, soy protein, casein, hemicelluloses, alginates, polylactic acid and polyhydroxyalkanoates etc. Blends, composites and nanocomposites based on these polymers have been very briefly discussed. Finally the applications, new challenges and opportunities of these biomaterials are also discussed.
P. M Visakh, Aji P. Mathew, Sabu Thomas

Chapter 2. Cellulose Based Blends, Composites and Nanocomposites

Abstract
Cellulose is the most abundant natural polymer on earth. It is the major constituent of cotton and wood, which together are the basic resources for all cellulose based products such as paper, textiles, construction materials, etc. Cellulose is also used as raw material for the production of blends, composites and nanocomposites which have a variety of different applications. In this chapter we review the main characteristics and properties of cellulose as well as its most promising potential applications emphasizing the use of composites reinforced with lignocellulosic fibers, nanocomposites reinforced with cellulose whiskers and bacterial cellulose nanocomposites. First, we start describing the structure and properties of cellulose at the molecular, supramolecular and morphological level. We present a review of cellulose whiskers, including the main processing techniques used for their preparation, as well as the influence of the processing conditions on the characteristics of such whiskers. We continue describing the manufacture of cellulose based blends, composites and nanocomposites. Composites reinforced with lignocellulosic macro-fibers as well as nanocomposites reinforced with cellulose whiskers and bacterial cellulose nanofibers are reviewed in this section. Finally, we present several applications for cellulose based composites and nanocomposites. This last section includes biomedical, optoelectronic and electrical applications as well as the use of cellulose for the preparation of high strength “nanopapers” and materials for packaging applications.
F. G. Torres, O. P. Troncoso, C. Torres, C. J. Grande

Chapter 3. Chitin and Chitosan Based Blends, Composites and Nanocomposites

Abstract
Nature is gifted with several nanomaterials which could be obtained from different animal and plant sources. Cellulose, chitin and starch are abundant, natural, renewable and biodegradable polymers. By intelligent processing techniques they could be used as classical nano reinforcing fillers in polymers i.e., composites. They are often called whiskers.
Mohammad Zuber, Khalid Mahmood Zia, Mehdi Barikani

Chapter 4. Starch Based Blends, Composites and Nanocomposites

Abstract
The development and production of biodegradable starch-based materials has attracted more and more attention in recent years due to the depletion in the world’s oil resources and the growing interest in easing the environmental burden from petrochemically derived polymers. Furthermore, the unique microstructures of different starches can be used as an outstanding model system to illustrate the conceptual approach to understanding the relationship between the structures and properties in polymers.
Long Yu, Xingxun Liu, Eustathios Petinakis, Katherine Dean, Stuart Bateman

Chapter 5. Recent Studies on Soy Protein Based Blends, Composites and Nanocomposites

Abstract
With the environmental appeal around the planet for a sustainable development, there is the need to develop new materials from renewable resources, which can be degraded in a short time in the environment, thereby maintaining the proper balance of the carbon cycle. The utilization of hydrocolloids, such as soy protein, to prepare biodegradable materials with suitable properties, has been a great challenge for the scientific community, since these materials do not possess all the desirable characteristics of the synthetic polymers, being mostly often, highly hydrophilic and also presenting poor mechanical properties to be used as engineering’s materials. In this context, the studies with application of nanotechnology to biodegradable polymers can open new possibilities to improve not only the properties of these materials, but also its efficiency.
Lucia H. Innocentini-Mei, Farayde Matta Fakhouri

Chapter 6. Nanocarriers, Films and Composites Based on Milk Proteins

Abstract
The dominant milk proteins, caseins are similar in structure and found in milk as nanoparticles called micelle. Casein micelles (300-600 nm) are composed of several thousand molecules, bonded via calcium phosphate nanoclusters. All other proteins present in milk are grouped together and termed whey proteins. The primary whey protein in cow milk is β-lactoglobulin. Here we firstly review the chemistry of caseins and whey proteins including presented models and theories for the structure of casein micelles.
Ashkan Madadlou, Fatemeh Azarikia

Chapter 7. Recent Studies on Alginates Based Blends, Composites, and Nanocomposites

Abstract
Alginate is the generic name given to the salts of alginic acids. Alginic acids are polyuronides, i.e., polysaccharides molecules which are built up of uronic acid residues, molecules with a carboxyl group on the carbon that is not part of the ring, Commercial alginates are currently obtained by extraction from brown seaweeds such as Laminaria digitata, Laminaria hyperborea, and Macrocystis pyrifera. However, several bacteria such as the nitrogen-fixing aerobe Azotobacter vinelandii and the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa also produce alginate. Alginates are unique in terms of their properties such as emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilizers, gelling and film forming, resulting in several applications for the food and pharmaceutical industries. Alginate has been regarded as an excellent polysachaccharide for gel systems because of its unique features such as biocompatibility, biodegradability, immnogenecity, and non-toxicity. In the biomedical area, alginates have been used as devices in several human health applications, such as excipients in drug delivery (DDS), wound dressings, as dental impression materials and in some formulations preventing gastric reflux, among others. Main characteristics and chemical modification, along with some interesting properties and applications are reviewed along this chapter.
M.M. Soledad Lencina, Noemí A. Andreucetti, César G. Gómez, Marcelo A. Villar

Chapter 8. Advances Concerning Lignin Utilization in New Materials

Abstract
After cellulose, lignin represents the second main component of vegetal biomass. The estimation of lignin produced annually through biosynthesis indicates a quantity of 2x1010 tons.
Georgeta Cazacu, Mirela Capraru, Valentin I. Popa

Chapter 9. Recent Studies on Hemicellulose-Based Blends, Composites and Nanocomposites

Abstract
Hemicelluloses are abundant polysaccharides, occurring in all plants as structural components. In spite of their abundance, the industrial utilization of hemicelluloses is minor in comparison with the use of starch and cellulose. Recent studies on the use of hemicelluloses as blends, composites and nanocomposites have brought up new possibilities for hemicellulose utilization, such as in biodegradable packaging materials and edible coatings.
Kirsi S. Mikkonen

Chapter 10. Bacterial Nanocellulose for Medical Implants

Abstract
Bacterial cellulose (BC) has established to be a remarkably versatile biomaterial and can be used in wide variety of applied scientific endeavours, especially for medical devices. In fact, biomedical devices recently have gained a significant amount of attention because of an increased interest in tissue-engineered products for both wound care and the regeneration of damaged or diseased organs. Due to its unique nanostructure and properties, microbial cellulose is a natural candidate for numerous medical and tissue-engineered applications. Hydrophilic bacterial cellulose fibers of an average diameter of 50 nm are produced by the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum, using a fermentation process. The microbial cellulose fiber has a high degree of crystallinity. Using direct nanomechanical measurement, determined that these fibers are very strong and when used in combination with other biocompatible materials, produce nanocomposites particularly suitable for use in human and veterinary medicine. Moreover, the nanostructure and morphological similarities with collagen make BC attractive for cell immobilization and cell support. The architecture of BC materials can be engineered over length scales ranging from nano to macro by controlling the biofabrication process. The chapter describes the fundamentals, purification and morphological investigation of bacterial cellulose. This chapter deals with the modification of microbial cellulose and how to increase the compatibility between cellulosic surfaces and a variety of plastic materials. Furthermore, provides deep knowledge of fascinating current and future applications of bacterial cellulose and their nanocomposites especially in the medical field, materials with properties closely mimic that of biological organs and tissues were described.
Bibin Mathew Cherian, Alcides Lopes Leão, Sivoney Ferreira de Souza, Gabriel Molina de Olyveira, Ligia Maria Manzine Costa, Cláudia Valéria Seullner Brandão, Suresh S. Narine

Chapter 11. Polylactic Acid Based Blends, Composites and Nanocomposites

Abstract
Biopolymers are expected to be an alternative for conventional plastics due to the limited resources and soaring petroleum price which will restrict the use of petroleum based plastics in the near future. PLA has attracted the attention of polymer scientist recently as a potential biopolymer to substitute the conventional petroleum based plastics. The chapter aims to highlight on the recent developments in preparation and characterization of PLA blends (biodegradable and non-biodegradable blends), PLA composites (natural fiber and mineral fillers) and PLA nanocomposites (PLA/montmorillonite, PLA/carbon nanotubes and PLA/cellulose nanowhiskers).
Azman Hassan, Harintharavimal Balakrishnan, Abozar Akbari

Chapter 12. Polyhydroxyalkanoates: The Natural Polymers Produced by Bacterial Fermentation

Abstract
Polymers are mainly divided into two groups, natural polymers, such as proteins, cellulose, silk and synthetic polymers, such as polystyrene, polyethylene, and nylon. In some cases, naturally occurring polymers can also be produced synthetically. An important example is natural rubber which is known as polyisoprene in its synthetic form.
Bijal Panchal, Andrea Bagdadi, Ipsita Roy

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