Plant-derived materials are desirable, due to their reduced environmental impact, as an alternative to traditionally petroleum-based materials for a variety of potential applications. Recent work has shown that nanocellulose paper possesses superior characteristics over standard weight paper and that soybean oil can be chemically modified to produce a UV- curable resin. This study examined the use of cost effective ultra-violet (UV) energy to initiate free radical polymerization of acrylated epoxidized soybean oil resin on nanofibrillated cellulose paper substrates. Curing rate, water absorption, and tensile properties were analyzed with variables including reactive diluent molecular weight and paper substrate porosity. Results of selected treatments showed that nanofibrillated cellulose (32% mass fraction in composites) provided 275% and 180% enhancement, respectively, in tensile stiffness and strength of the cured soybean oil resin. On the other hand, the incorporation of resin resulted in a composite with better stiffness retention in wet conditions compared to the nanopaper substrate. Findings from this study suggest that the nanocellulose-resin composites may be useful as a viable material option upon further process modifications.
This research was supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Part of this study was also funded by the USDA McIntire Stennis Fund (Project No. MIN-12-067).
Nanocellulose-Soybean Oil Composites via UV-Initiated Free Radical Polymerization.
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