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Open AccessArticle

Effect of Chitin Nanocrystals on Crystallization and Properties of Poly(lactic acid)-Based Nanocomposites

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Division of Materials Science, Luleå University of Technology, SE-97 187 Luleå, Sweden
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Centre Català del Plàstic (CCP), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya Barcelona Tech (EEBE-UPC), C/Colom 114, Terrassa 08222, Spain
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IWK Institut für Werkstofftechnik und Kunststoffverarbeitung, CH-8640 Rapperswil, Switzerland
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Proplast, Via Roberto di Ferro 86, 15122 Alessandria, Italy
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Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3BS, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Polymers 2020, 12(3), 726; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12030726 (registering DOI)
Received: 2 March 2020 / Revised: 14 March 2020 / Accepted: 16 March 2020 / Published: 24 March 2020
The crystalline phase of poly(lactic acid) (PLA) has crucial effects on its own properties and nanocomposites. In this study, the isothermal crystallization of PLA, triethyl citrate-plasticized PLA (PLA–TEC), and its nanocomposite with chitin nanocrystals (PLA–TEC–ChNC) at different temperatures and times was investigated, and the resulting properties of the materials were characterized. Both PLA and PLA–TEC showed extremely low crystallinity at isothermal temperatures of 135, 130, 125 °C and times of 5 or 15 min. In contrast, the addition of 1 wt % of ChNCs significantly improved the crystallinity of PLA under the same conditions owing to the nucleation effect of the ChNCs. The samples were also crystallized at 110 °C to reach their maximal crystallinity, and PLA–TEC–ChNC achieved 48% crystallinity within 5 min, while PLA and PLA–TEC required 40 min to reach a similar level. Moreover, X-ray diffraction analysis showed that the addition of ChNCs resulted in smaller crystallite sizes, which further influenced the barrier properties and hydrolytic degradation of the PLA. The nanocomposites had considerably lower barrier properties and underwent faster degradation compared to PLA–TEC110. These results confirm that the addition of ChNCs in PLA leads to promising properties for packaging applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: poly(lactic acid); chitin nanocrystals; nanocomposites; liquid-assisted extrusion; crystallinity; barrier properties; hydrolytic degradation poly(lactic acid); chitin nanocrystals; nanocomposites; liquid-assisted extrusion; crystallinity; barrier properties; hydrolytic degradation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Singh, S.; Patel, M.; Schwendemann, D.; Zaccone, M.; Geng, S.; Maspoch, M.L.; Oksman, K. Effect of Chitin Nanocrystals on Crystallization and Properties of Poly(lactic acid)-Based Nanocomposites. Polymers 2020, 12, 726.

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