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Polymers, Volume 15, Issue 4 (February-2 2023) – 273 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): As a transition strategy towards sustainability, food packaging plays a crucial role in the current era. This, in the context of the biorefinery of agricultural residues, implies not only obtaining desirable products not derived from fossil resources but also a comprehensive utilization of biomass that contributes to the circular bioeconomy. The present work proposes the preparation of absorbent bioactive food pads through a multiproduct biorefinery approach from bay tree pruning residues. The use of these bioactive pads has been successfully evaluated for the preservation of fresh burger meat, resulting in the delay of food oxidation during storage. View this paper
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18 pages, 12418 KiB  
Article
Rheological Properties of Non-Adhesive Embolizing Compounds—The Key to Fine-Tuning Embolization Process-Modeling in Endovascular Surgery
by Iuliia Kuianova, Alexander Chupakhin, Alexey Besov, Anton Gorbatykh, Dmitry Kislitsin, Kirill Orlov and Daniil Parshin
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1060; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041060 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1812
Abstract
The study of polymers’ rheological properties is of paramount importance both for the problems of their industrial production as well as for their practical application. Two polymers used for embolization of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are studied in this work: Onyx-18® and Squid-12 [...] Read more.
The study of polymers’ rheological properties is of paramount importance both for the problems of their industrial production as well as for their practical application. Two polymers used for embolization of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are studied in this work: Onyx-18® and Squid-12®. Viscosity curve tests and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) were used to uncover viscosity law as a function of shear rate as well as behavior of the polymers in catheter or pathological tissue models. The property of thermal activation of viscosity was demonstrated, namely, the law of dependence of viscosity on temperature in the range from 20 °C to 37 °C was established. A zone of viscosity nonmonotonicity was identified, and a physical interpretation of the dependence of the embolic polymers’ viscosity on the shear rate was given on the basis of Cisco’s model. The obtained empirical constants will be useful for researchers based on the CFD of AVMs. A description of the process of temperature activation of the embolic polymers’ viscosity is important for understanding the mechanics of the embolization process by practicing surgeons as well as for producing new prospective embolic agents. Full article
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17 pages, 7307 KiB  
Article
Effect of Low-Thermal Treatment on the Particle Size Distribution in Wood Dust after Milling
by Martin Júda, Maciej Sydor, Tomasz Rogoziński, Martin Kučerka, Marta Pędzik and Richard Kminiak
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1059; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041059 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1739
Abstract
The thermal treatment of wood can improve the appearance of the wood product’s surface, its dimensional stability, and resistance to fungal attacks. However, the heat treatment changes the technological properties of wood, making it a new engineering material. This work investigates the effect [...] Read more.
The thermal treatment of wood can improve the appearance of the wood product’s surface, its dimensional stability, and resistance to fungal attacks. However, the heat treatment changes the technological properties of wood, making it a new engineering material. This work investigates the effect of the low-thermal treatment of birch wood (Betula pendula Roth.), European beech wood (Fagus sylvatica L.), and alder wood (Alnus glutinosa L.) on the fine dust particles creation during woodworking. The samples of thermally treated wood with temperatures commonly used for the change of wood colour (105, 125, and 135 °C) were compared with reference samples made of natural wood. All 12 variants of the tested woods were milled using the 5-axis CNC machining center (20 mm diamond cutter, rotational speed 18,000 rev·min−1, the depth of cut 3 mm, feed rates of 2, 4 and 6 m∙min−1). A sieving analysis method allowed measuring the dust particle size distributions in all dust samples. The experiment’s result analysis points out that wood type, thermal treatment, and feed rate meaningfully affect the size distribution of dust particles. Compared to birch wood and beech wood, the milling of alder wood samples created a much higher content of the finest dust particles, with particle sizes smaller than 0.032 mm. Increased temperatures in thermal treatment increase the share of fine dust particles with sizes smaller than 0.125 mm, compared to wood in its natural state. Milling with a lower feed rate (2 m·min−1) creates finer dust than processing with higher feed rates (4 and 6 m·min−1). Generally, the milling of alder in a natural or thermally treated state is a source of fine dust particles, particularly at low feed speed-rate milling, compared to birch and beech wood. In general, these results indicate that the low temperature thermal treatment parameters attribute new technological properties to all thermally modified types of wood tested. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Challenges in Wood and Wood-Based Materials III)
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23 pages, 7226 KiB  
Article
Response Surface Methodology (RSM) Approach to Optimization of Coagulation-Flocculation of Aquaculture Wastewater Treatment Using Chitosan from Carapace of Giant Freshwater Prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii
by Benedict Terkula Iber, Donald Torsabo, Che Engku Noramalina Che Engku Chik, Fachrul Wahab, Siti Rozaimah Sheikh Abdullah, Hassimi Abu Hassan and Nor Azman Kasan
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1058; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041058 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2645
Abstract
The major sources of waste from aquaculture operations emanates from fish or shellfish processing and wastewater generation. A simple technique called coagulation/flocculation utilizes biowaste from aquaculture to produce chitosan coagulant for wastewater treatment. A chemical method was applied in the present study for [...] Read more.
The major sources of waste from aquaculture operations emanates from fish or shellfish processing and wastewater generation. A simple technique called coagulation/flocculation utilizes biowaste from aquaculture to produce chitosan coagulant for wastewater treatment. A chemical method was applied in the present study for chitin and chitosan extraction from carapace of Macrobrachium rosenbergii and subsequent application for removal of turbidity and salinity from shrimp aquaculture wastewater. Box-Behnken in RSM was used to determine the optimum operating conditions of chitosan dosage, pH, and settling time, after which quadratic models were developed and validated. Results show that 80 g of raw powder carapace yielded chitin and chitosan of 23.79% and 20.21%, respectively. The low moisture (0.38%) and ash (12.58%) content were an indication of good quality chitosan, while other properties such as water-binding capacity (WBC), fat-binding capacity (FBC), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and scanning electron microscope (SEM) confirmed the structure and the α-group, as well as the rough morphology of chitosan. In addition, the high solubility (71.23%) and DDA (85.20%) suggested good coagulant potentials. It was recorded in this study that 87.67% turbidity was successfully removed at 20 mg/L of chitosan dosage and 6.25 pH after 30 min settling time, while 21.43% salinity was removed at 5 mg/L of chitosan dosage, 7.5 pH, and 30 min settling time. Therefore, the process conditions adopted in this study yielded chitosan of good quality, suitable as biopolymer coagulant for aquaculture wastewater treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polysaccharide: Synthesis, Modification and Application)
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19 pages, 14355 KiB  
Article
Nitrocellulose Based Film-Forming Gels with Cinnamon Essential Oil for Covering Surface Wounds
by Lauryna Pudžiuvelytė, Evelina Drulytė and Jurga Bernatonienė
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1057; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041057 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2317
Abstract
Acute and chronic wounds caused by assorted reasons impact patient’s quality of life. Films are one of the main types of moisture retentive dressings for wounds. To improve the healing of the wound, films must ensure there is no microorganism contamination, protect from [...] Read more.
Acute and chronic wounds caused by assorted reasons impact patient’s quality of life. Films are one of the main types of moisture retentive dressings for wounds. To improve the healing of the wound, films must ensure there is no microorganism contamination, protect from negative environmental effects, and support optimal moisture content. The aim of this study was to formulate optimal film-forming gel compositions that would have good physico-chemical properties and be suitable for wound treatment. Nitrocellulose, castor oil, ethanol (96%), ethyl acetate, and cinnamon leaf essential oil were used to create formulations. During the study, the drying rate, adhesion, flexibility, tensile strength, cohesiveness, swelling, water vapor penetration, pH value, and morphology properties of films were examined. Results showed that optimal concentrations of nitrocellulose for film-forming gel production were 13.4% and 15%. The concentrations of nitrocellulose and cinnamon leaf essential oil impacted the films’ physicochemical properties (drying rate, swelling, adhesion, flexibility, etc.). The swelling test showed that films of formulations could absorb significant amounts of simulant wound exudate. Film-forming gels and films showed no microbial contamination and were stable three months after production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural-Based Biodegradable Polymeric Materials)
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17 pages, 5136 KiB  
Article
Polyimide-Derived Supramolecular Systems Containing Various Amounts of Azochromophore for Optical Storage Uses
by Andreea Irina Barzic, Ion Sava, Raluca Marinica Albu, Cristian Ursu, Gabriela Lisa and Iuliana Stoica
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1056; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041056 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1429
Abstract
The progress of digital technologies demands more speed and larger storage capacity. Optical storage systems have the advantage of being cheap, fast and capacious. This article explores the potential use of polyimide-based films as a recording medium for optical storage devices. The materials [...] Read more.
The progress of digital technologies demands more speed and larger storage capacity. Optical storage systems have the advantage of being cheap, fast and capacious. This article explores the potential use of polyimide-based films as a recording medium for optical storage devices. The materials were designed through a host–guest approach that involves a cyano-containing polyimide precursor and an azochromophore combined in the following ratios: 1:0.25, 1:0.5, 1:0.75 and 1:1. After thermal treatment up to 200 °C, polyimide systems were formed with supramolecular structures constructed via hydrogen bonding as shown by molecular modeling and FTIR at around 3350 cm−1. The aspects arising from the variation of the azo-dye content in the polyimide samples and their impact on the vitrification temperature, colorimetric features, refractive index, band gap, non-linear optical susceptibility and birefringence were investigated for the first time. The thermal analysis indicated a slight decrease in the vitrification temperature from 190.84 °C for the sample without azo dye to 163.91 °C for the film containing the highest leading of azo dye. The morphology images revealed the occurrence of periodic structures in azo-derived materials exposed to a UV laser, which is accentuated by the addition of more azo dye molecules. Optical tests allowed observation of the increase in the dominant wavelength, refractivity and optical conductivity of the samples, produced by the incorporation of azochromophore and laser irradiation. The photo-generated birefringence increased from 0.014 (sample with 1:0.25) to 0.036 (sample with 1:1), which in combination with the created regular topography pattern, is essential for the use of these materials as recording media in optical storage applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multifunctional Advanced Polymeric Films)
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20 pages, 5963 KiB  
Article
Synthesis and Design of Hybrid Metalloporphyrin Polymers Based on Palladium (II) and Copper (II) Cations and Axial Complexes of Pyridyl-Substituted Sn(IV)Porphyrins with Octopamine
by Anastasia E. Likhonina, Galina M. Mamardashvili, Ilya A. Khodov and Nugzar Z. Mamardashvili
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1055; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041055 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1923
Abstract
Supramolecular metalloporphyrin polymers formed by binding tetrapyrrolic macrocycle peripheral nitrogen atoms to Pd(II) cations and Sn(IV)porphyrins extra-ligands reaction centers to Cu(II) cations were obtained and identified. The structure and the formation mechanism of obtained hydrophobic Sn(IV)-porphyrin oligomers and polymers in solution were established, [...] Read more.
Supramolecular metalloporphyrin polymers formed by binding tetrapyrrolic macrocycle peripheral nitrogen atoms to Pd(II) cations and Sn(IV)porphyrins extra-ligands reaction centers to Cu(II) cations were obtained and identified. The structure and the formation mechanism of obtained hydrophobic Sn(IV)-porphyrin oligomers and polymers in solution were established, and their resistance to UV radiation and changes in solution temperature was studied. It was shown that the investigated polyporphyrin nanostructures are porous materials with predominance cylindrical mesopores. Density functional theory (DFT) was used to geometrically optimize the experimentally obtained supramolecular porphyrin polymers. The sizes of unit cells in porphyrin tubular structures were determined and coincided with the experimental data. The results obtained can be used to create highly porous materials for separation, storage, transportation, and controlled release of substrates of different nature, including highly volatile, explosive, and toxic gases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coordination Polymers: Properties and Applications II)
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16 pages, 3764 KiB  
Article
Biochemical and Microstructural Characteristics of Collagen Biopolymer from Unicornfish (Naso reticulatus Randall, 2001) Bone Prepared with Various Acid Types
by Nurul Syazwanie Fatiroi, Abdul Aziz Jaziri, Rossita Shapawi, Ruzaidi Azli Mohd Mokhtar, Wan Norhana Md. Noordin and Nurul Huda
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1054; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041054 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1390
Abstract
Biopolymer-like collagen has great industrial potential in terms of its excellent properties, such as strong biocompatibility, high degradability, and low antigenicity. Collagen derived from fish by-products is preferable as it is safer (free from transmittable diseases) and acceptable to most religious beliefs. This [...] Read more.
Biopolymer-like collagen has great industrial potential in terms of its excellent properties, such as strong biocompatibility, high degradability, and low antigenicity. Collagen derived from fish by-products is preferable as it is safer (free from transmittable diseases) and acceptable to most religious beliefs. This study aimed to characterize the unicornfish (Naso reticulatus Randall, 2001) bone collagens prepared with different type of acids, i.e., acetic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid. A higher yield (Y) (p < 0.05) was obtained in the citric-acid-soluble collagen (CASC) (Y = 1.36%), followed by the lactic-acid-soluble collagen (LASC) (Y = 1.08%) and acetic-acid-soluble collagen (AASC) (Y = 0.40%). All extracted collagens were classified as type I due to the presence of 2-alpha chains (α1 and α2). Their prominent absorption spectra were located at the wavelengths of 229.83 nm to 231.17 nm. This is similar to wavelengths reported for other fish collagens. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) and infrared (IR) data demonstrated that the triple-helical structure of type I collagens was still preserved after the acid-extraction process. In terms of thermal stability, all samples had similar maximum transition temperatures (Tmax = 33.34–33.51 °C). A higher relative solubility (RS) of the unicornfish bone collagens was observed at low salt concentration (0–10 g/L) (RS > 80%) and at acidic condition (pH 1.0 to pH 3.0) (RS > 75%). The extracted collagen samples had an irregular and dense flake structure with random coiled filaments. Overall, bones of unicornfish may be used as a substitute source of collagen. Full article
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12 pages, 2642 KiB  
Article
Multilayered Composites with Carbon Nanotubes for Electromagnetic Shielding Application
by Povilas Bertašius, Artyom Plyushch, Jan Macutkevič, Jūras Banys, Algirdas Selskis, Oskars Platnieks and Sergejs Gaidukovs
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1053; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041053 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1786
Abstract
Bulk polylactic acid (PLA)/multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) composites were prepared and investigated in wide frequency ranges (20 Hz–1 MHz and 24–40 GHz). It was determined that the percolation threshold in bulk PLA/MWCNT composites is close to 0.2 vol.% MWCNT. However, the best microwave [...] Read more.
Bulk polylactic acid (PLA)/multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) composites were prepared and investigated in wide frequency ranges (20 Hz–1 MHz and 24–40 GHz). It was determined that the percolation threshold in bulk PLA/MWCNT composites is close to 0.2 vol.% MWCNT. However, the best microwave dielectric properties and absorption were observed in composites with 3.0–5.0 vol.% MWCNT. Therefore, for future investigations, we selected layered (laminate) polymeric structures with gradual changes in MWCNT concentration from 0.2 to 8.0 vol.% MWCNT. Two approaches to laminate structure designs were examined and compared: a five-layer composite and a nine-layer composite that included four pure PLA middle layers. The addition of MWCNT enhanced the elastic modulus by up to 1.4-fold and tensile strength by up to 1.2-fold, with the best performance achieved at 5.0 vol.% loading. High microwave shielding was observed for these layered PLA/MWCNT structures with a gradient change in MWCNT concentration (up to 26 dB in both transmission and absorption coefficients) in the broad frequency range (from 24 to 40 GHz). Obtained structures are highly anisotropic, and the absorption coefficient is 2–5 dB higher in the direction of MWCNT concentration increase; however, the transmission coefficient is the same in both directions. The properties of microwave absorption are mainly unaffected by the additional polymeric layers. The absorption of the layered structure is greater than the absorption of single-layer composites with an optimal MWCNT concentration of the same thickness. The proposed laminate structure design is promising in the field of efficient electromagnetic shielding. Full article
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22 pages, 5496 KiB  
Article
Promotion of In Vitro Osteogenic Activity by Melt Extrusion-Based PLLA/PCL/PHBV Scaffolds Enriched with Nano-Hydroxyapatite and Strontium Substituted Nano-Hydroxyapatite
by Georgia-Ioanna Kontogianni, Amedeo Franco Bonatti, Carmelo De Maria, Raasti Naseem, Priscila Melo, Catarina Coelho, Giovanni Vozzi, Kenneth Dalgarno, Paulo Quadros, Chiara Vitale-Brovarone and Maria Chatzinikolaidou
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1052; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041052 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2942
Abstract
Bone tissue engineering has emerged as a promising strategy to overcome the limitations of current treatments for bone-related disorders, but the trade-off between mechanical properties and bioactivity remains a concern for many polymeric materials. To address this need, novel polymeric blends of poly-L-lactic [...] Read more.
Bone tissue engineering has emerged as a promising strategy to overcome the limitations of current treatments for bone-related disorders, but the trade-off between mechanical properties and bioactivity remains a concern for many polymeric materials. To address this need, novel polymeric blends of poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), polycaprolactone (PCL) and poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) have been explored. Blend filaments comprising PLLA/PCL/PHBV at a ratio of 90/5/5 wt% have been prepared using twin-screw extrusion. The PLLA/PCL/PHBV blends were enriched with nano-hydroxyapatite (nano-HA) and strontium-substituted nano-HA (Sr-nano-HA) to produce composite filaments. Three-dimensional scaffolds were printed by fused deposition modelling from PLLA/PCL/PHBV blend and composite filaments and evaluated mechanically and biologically for their capacity to support bone formation in vitro. The composite scaffolds had a mean porosity of 40%, mean pores of 800 µm, and an average compressive modulus of 32 MPa. Polymer blend and enriched scaffolds supported cell attachment and proliferation. The alkaline phosphatase activity and calcium production were significantly higher in composite scaffolds compared to the blends. These findings demonstrate that thermoplastic polyesters (PLLA and PCL) can be combined with polymers produced via a bacterial route (PHBV) to produce polymer blends with excellent biocompatibility, providing additional options for polymer blend optimization. The enrichment of the blend with nano-HA and Sr-nano-HA powders enhanced the osteogenic potential in vitro. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Polymeric Biomaterials for Tissue Engineering II)
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26 pages, 5353 KiB  
Review
The Elasticity of Polymer Melts and Solutions in Shear and Extension Flows
by Andrey V. Subbotin, Alexander Ya. Malkin and Valery G. Kulichikhin
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1051; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041051 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2718
Abstract
This review is devoted to understanding the role of elasticity in the main flow modes of polymeric viscoelastic liquids—shearing and extension. The flow through short capillaries is the central topic for discussing the input of elasticity to the effects, which are especially interesting [...] Read more.
This review is devoted to understanding the role of elasticity in the main flow modes of polymeric viscoelastic liquids—shearing and extension. The flow through short capillaries is the central topic for discussing the input of elasticity to the effects, which are especially interesting for shear. An analysis of the experimental data made it possible to show that the energy losses in such flows are determined by the Deborah and Weissenberg numbers. These criteria are responsible for abnormally high entrance effects, as well as for mechanical losses in short capillaries. In addition, the Weissenberg number determines the threshold of the flow instability due to the liquid-to-solid transition. In extension, this criterion shows whether deformation takes place as flow or as elastic strain. However, the stability of a free jet in extension depends not only on the viscoelastic properties of a polymeric substance but also on the driving forces: gravity, surface tension, etc. An analysis of the influence of different force combinations on the shape of the stretched jet is presented. The concept of the role of elasticity in the deformation of polymeric liquids is crucial for any kind of polymer processing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers Physics: From Theory to Experimental Applications)
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17 pages, 12707 KiB  
Article
Assessing Crimp of Fibres in Random Networks with 3D Imaging
by Yasasween Hewavidana, Mehmet N. Balci, Andrew Gleadall, Behnam Pourdeyhimi, Vadim V. Silberschmidt and Emrah Demirci
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1050; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041050 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1487
Abstract
The analysis of fibrous structures using micro-computer tomography (µCT) is becoming more important as it provides an opportunity to characterise the mechanical properties and performance of materials. This study is the first attempt to provide computations of fibre crimp for various random fibrous [...] Read more.
The analysis of fibrous structures using micro-computer tomography (µCT) is becoming more important as it provides an opportunity to characterise the mechanical properties and performance of materials. This study is the first attempt to provide computations of fibre crimp for various random fibrous networks (RFNs) based on µCT data. A parametric algorithm was developed to compute fibre crimp in fibres in a virtual domain. It was successfully tested for six different X-ray µCT models of nonwoven fabrics. Computations showed that nonwoven fabrics with crimped fibres exhibited higher crimp levels than those with non-crimped fibres, as expected. However, with the increased fabric density of the non-crimped nonwovens, fibres tended to be more crimped. Additionally, the projected fibre crimp was computed for all three major 2D planes, and the obtained results were statistically analysed. Initially, the algorithm was tested for a small-size, nonwoven model containing only four fibres. The fraction of nearly straight fibres was computed for both crimped and non-crimped fabrics. The mean value of the fibre crimp demonstrated that fibre segments between intersections were almost straight. However, it was observed that there were no perfectly straight fibres in the analysed RFNs. This study is applicable to approach employing a finite-element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to model/analyse RFNs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Fibers in Textiles)
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22 pages, 5101 KiB  
Article
Synthesis and Study of Fully Biodegradable Composites Based on Poly(butylene succinate) and Biochar
by Katerina Papadopoulou, Panagiotis A. Klonos, Apostolos Kyritsis, Ondřej Mašek, Christian Wurzer, Konstantinos Tsachouridis, Antonios D. Anastasiou and Dimitrios N. Bikiaris
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1049; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041049 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2751
Abstract
Biodegradable polymers offer a promising alternative to the global plastic problems and especially in the last decade, to the microplastics problems. For the first time, samples of poly(butylene succinate) (PBSu) biocomposites containing 1, 2.5, and 5 wt% biochar (BC) were prepared by in [...] Read more.
Biodegradable polymers offer a promising alternative to the global plastic problems and especially in the last decade, to the microplastics problems. For the first time, samples of poly(butylene succinate) (PBSu) biocomposites containing 1, 2.5, and 5 wt% biochar (BC) were prepared by in situ polymerization via the two-stage melt polycondensation procedure. BC was used as a filler for the PBSu to improve its mechanical properties, thermal transitions, and biodegradability. The structure of the synthesized polymers was examined by 1H and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and X-Ray diffraction (XRD) along with an estimation of the molecular weights, while differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and light flash analysis (LFA) were also employed to record the thermal transitions and evaluate the thermal conductivity, respectively. It was found that the amount of BC does not affect the molecular weight of PBSu biocomposites. The fine dispersion of BC, as well as the increase in BC content in the polymeric matrix, significantly improves the tensile and impact strengths. The DSC analysis results showed that BC facilitates the crystallization of PBSu biocomposites. Due to the latter, a mild and systematic increase in thermal diffusivity and conductivity was recorded indicating that BC is a conductive material. The molecular mobility of PBSu, local and segmental, does not change significantly in the biocomposites, whereas the BC seems to cause an increase in the overall dielectric permittivity. Finally, it was found that the enzymatic hydrolysis degradation rate of biocomposites increased with the increasing BC content. Full article
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15 pages, 1975 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Zataria Multiflora Essential Oil—Incorporated Electrospun Polyvinyl Alcohol Fiber Mat as Active Packaging
by Farid Moradinezhad, Sara Hedayati and Elham Ansarifar
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1048; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041048 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1693
Abstract
In this study, an active packaging containing Zataria multiflora essential oil (ZMEO), a powerful natural antimicrobial agent, encapsulated into polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fiber via electrospinning is presented. ZMEO was effective on pathogenic bacteria, particularly Gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, [...] Read more.
In this study, an active packaging containing Zataria multiflora essential oil (ZMEO), a powerful natural antimicrobial agent, encapsulated into polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fiber via electrospinning is presented. ZMEO was effective on pathogenic bacteria, particularly Gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Listeria monosytogene), fungi and yeasts (Aspergillus fumigatus, Candida albicans). Results showed that the scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of fibers had a bead-free and uniform structure. Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) revealed that ZMEO was encapsulated into PVA through a physical process, without chemical interaction between the ingredients. Strawberries treated with PVA/ZMEO significantly (p < 0.05) preserved the anthocyanin (18.64%), total phenols (12.95%), antioxidant (22.72%), soluble solids (6.44%), titratable acidity (20.88%), firmness (27.2%), and color (15.55%) compared to the control sample during 15 days of cold storage. According to these findings, electrospinning was an efficient method for encapsulating bioactive compounds. ZMEO loaded into PVA fiber delayed the physiological and biochemical changes of fruits and extended the fruit’s shelf-life. This study revealed the benefits of incorporating ZMEO into PVA fiber mats, which could lead to new possibilities for active packaging. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Processing and Engineering)
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21 pages, 7799 KiB  
Article
Antibacterial Activity of Ulva/Nanocellulose and Ulva/Ag/Cellulose Nanocomposites and Both Blended with Fluoride against Bacteria Causing Dental Decay
by Ragaa A. Hamouda, Fauzia A. K. Qarabai, Fathi S. Shahabuddin, Turki M. Al-Shaikh and Rabab R. Makharita
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1047; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041047 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1987
Abstract
One of the most prevalent chronic infectious disorders is tooth decay. Acids produced when plaque bacteria break down sugar in the mouth cause tooth decay. Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus acidophilus are the most prominent species related to dental caries. Innovative biocidal agents that [...] Read more.
One of the most prevalent chronic infectious disorders is tooth decay. Acids produced when plaque bacteria break down sugar in the mouth cause tooth decay. Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus acidophilus are the most prominent species related to dental caries. Innovative biocidal agents that integrate with a biomaterial to prevent bacterial colonization have shown remarkable promise as a result of the rapid advancement of nanoscience and nanotechnology. In this study, Ulva lactuca was used as a cellulose source and reducing agent to synthesize nanocellulose and Ulva/Ag/cellulose/nanocomposites. The characterizations of nanocellulose and Ulva/Ag/cellulose/nanocomposites were tested for FT-IR, TEM, SEM, EDS, XRD, and zeta potential. Ulva/Ag/cellulose/nanocomposites and Ulva/nanocellulose, both blended with fluoride, were tested as an antibacterial against S. mutans ATCC 25175 and L. acidophilus CH-2. The results of the SEM proved that nanocellulose is filament-shaped, and FT-IR proved that the functional groups of Ulva/nanocellulose and Ulva/Ag/cellulose/nanocomposites and cellulose are relatively similar but present some small diffusion in peaks. The TEM image demonstrated that the more piratical size distribution of Ulva/Ag/cellulose/nanocomposites ranged from 15 to 20 nm, and Ulva/nanocellulose ranged from 10 to 15 nm. Ulva/Ag/cellulose/nanocomposites have higher negativity than Ulva/nanocellulose. Ulva/Ag/cellulose/nanocomposites and Ulva/nanocellulose possess antibacterial activity against S. mutans ATCC 25175 and L. acidophilus CH-2, but Ulva/Ag/cellulose/nanocomposites are more effective, followed by that blended with fluoride. It is possible to use Ulva/Ag/cellulose/nanocomposites as an antimicrobial agent when added to toothpaste. It is promising to discover an economic and safe nanocomposite product from a natural source with an antimicrobial agent that might be used against tooth bacteria. Full article
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12 pages, 2145 KiB  
Article
Effect of Dispersant on Disperse Dyeing in Silicone Waterless Dyeing System
by Jingru Chen, Liujun Pei, Wenhua Shi, Jingyuan Yi and Jiping Wang
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1046; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041046 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2177
Abstract
Traditional water-based dyeing of polyester textiles usually generates burdensome processes and a great deal of wastewater, which can no longer meet the green and sustainable developments in the textile dyeing industry. In the silicone waterless dyeing system, polyester textiles can be dyed with [...] Read more.
Traditional water-based dyeing of polyester textiles usually generates burdensome processes and a great deal of wastewater, which can no longer meet the green and sustainable developments in the textile dyeing industry. In the silicone waterless dyeing system, polyester textiles can be dyed with disperse dye without water. However, the dyeing performance of polyester textiles is influenced by the dispersant. In this study, the relationship between the properties of dispersants and disperse dyeing performance was studied. When the amount of dispersant NNO (2-Naphthalenesulfonic acid) was 1.2%, the exhaustion of disperse red 177 and the final K/S value of the dyed fabric improved to 94.18% and 14.73, respectively. However, the exhaustion of disperse red 177 was reduced from 90.73% to 82.61%, and the final K/S value of the dyed fabric was decreased from 14.77 to 14.01 when the dosage of MF (Naphthalenesulfonic acid) was 1.2%. Compared with different dyeing systems, the final uptake of disperse red 177 was 93.81% and 94.18% in traditional water-based and silicone waterless dyeing systems and the K/S value of the dyed fabric was almost the same. The washing and rubbing fastness (wet and dry) of the dyed fabric were found to be at a level of 4 or 4–5, and the light fastness of the dyed fabric was 3–4. If only the dispersant was added in the silicone waterless dyeing system, there was no leveling problems on dyed samples. Moreover, the maximum absorption wavelength of disperse red 177 was not changed after adding the dispersant. With an increasing amount of dispersant NNO, the solubility of the dye in the silicone solvent decreased, but it increased with an increasing amount of dispersant MF. In the relationship between dye exhaustion and dye solubility in a silicone waterless dyeing system, the exhaustion of dye was linearly and inversely proportional to the dye solubility. A dispersant with better hydrophilicity can decrease the solubility of the dye in dyeing media, and the dyeing performance of dye is better. Compared with previous studies, the exhaustion of dye was consistent with the ClogP value (hydrophobic constant) of the dyeing accelerant. Therefore, a dispersant with high hydrophilicity can reduce the solubility of dye and improve the exhaustion of disperse dye in a silicone waterless dyeing system. Moreover, the color fastness of the dyed fabric did not change before and after adding the dispersant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Fibers)
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11 pages, 2168 KiB  
Article
Effect of Almond Skin Waste and Glycidyl Methacrylate on Mechanical and Color Properties of Poly(ε-caprolactone)/Poly(lactic acid) Blends
by Arantzazu Valdés, Franco Dominici, Elena Fortunati, Jose María Kenny, Alfonso Jiménez and María Carmen Garrigós
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1045; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041045 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1820
Abstract
Blending Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) is a promising strategy to enhance the properties of biodegradable materials. However, these compounds are thermodynamically immiscible and, consequently, compatibilization is required during polymer blending. Reinforced biocomposites can be obtained by adding agricultural wastes generated by [...] Read more.
Blending Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) is a promising strategy to enhance the properties of biodegradable materials. However, these compounds are thermodynamically immiscible and, consequently, compatibilization is required during polymer blending. Reinforced biocomposites can be obtained by adding agricultural wastes generated by industries which are forced to consider waste treatment methods to prevent environmental concerns. Novel PCL/PLA blends were proposed based on the addition of 10 wt.% almond shell (AS) waste combined with 3 wt.% glycidyl methacrylate (GMA) as a compatibilizer. Different PCL-, PLA-, and PCL/PLA-based blends at different percentages (75:25, 50:50, 25:75, 15:85) added with GMA and AS were obtained. The color results highlighted the lower transparency and brownish tone of the studied formulations after the addition of AS. The addition of PCL provided a positive effect on PLA’s ductility due to its intrinsically higher flexibility. The combination of GMA and AS improved the mechanical properties of PCL, PLA, and 50:50 controls by reducing yield strength, yield strength at break, and elongation at break values. The 75:25_GMA_AS formulation showed a homogeneous visual appearance, low transparency, and desirable mechanical properties for rigid food packaging applications, reducing the final material cost through the revalorization of AS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Polyesters)
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12 pages, 2084 KiB  
Article
Polar-Functionalized Polyethylenes Enabled by Palladium-Catalyzed Copolymerization of Ethylene and Butadiene/Bio-Based Alcohol-Derived Monomers
by Yanlin Zong, Chaoqun Wang, Yixin Zhang and Zhongbao Jian
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1044; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041044 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1970
Abstract
Polar-functionalized polyolefins are high-value materials with improved properties. However, their feedstocks generally come from non-renewable fossil products; thus, it requires the development of renewable bio-based monomers to produce functionalized polyolefins. In this contribution, via the Pd-catalyzed telomerization of 1,3-butadiene and three types of [...] Read more.
Polar-functionalized polyolefins are high-value materials with improved properties. However, their feedstocks generally come from non-renewable fossil products; thus, it requires the development of renewable bio-based monomers to produce functionalized polyolefins. In this contribution, via the Pd-catalyzed telomerization of 1,3-butadiene and three types of bio-based alcohols (furfuryl alcohol, tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol, and solketal), 2,7-octadienyl ether monomers including OC8-FUR, OC8-THF, and OC8-SOL were synthesized and characterized, respectively. The copolymerization of these monomers with ethylene catalyzed by phosphine–sulfonate palladium catalysts was further investigated. Microstructures of the resultant copolymers were analyzed by NMR and ATR-IR spectroscopy, revealing linear structures with incorporations of difunctionalized side chains bearing both allyl ether units and polar cyclic groups. Mechanical property studies exhibited better strain-at-break of these copolymers compared to the non-polar polyethylene, among which the copolymer E-FUR with the incorporation of 0.3 mol% displayed the highest strain-at-break and stress-at-break values of 940% and 35.9 MPa, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers of the Future)
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14 pages, 5748 KiB  
Article
Enhancing the Initial Whiteness and Long-Term Thermal Stability of Polyvinyl Chloride by Utilizing Layered Double Hydroxides with Low Surface Basicity
by Guanhua Shen, Yanhua Zhao, Mingxin Ma, Yongli Wang, Xiangying Hao and Guodong Yuan
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1043; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041043 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1751
Abstract
This study investigated the impact of surface basicity on the performance of layered double hydroxides (LDHs) as heat stabilizers for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). LDHs with varying surface basicity were synthesized and characterized using XRD, SEM, BET, and CO2-TPD. The LDHs were [...] Read more.
This study investigated the impact of surface basicity on the performance of layered double hydroxides (LDHs) as heat stabilizers for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). LDHs with varying surface basicity were synthesized and characterized using XRD, SEM, BET, and CO2-TPD. The LDHs were then combined with zinc stearate and dibenzoylmethane to create an environmentally friendly heat stabilizer and added to PVC. The resulting PVC composites were evaluated for thermal stability using the oven-aging method. The results showed that a lower Mg/Al molar ratio (2.0) improved the initial whiteness and long-term thermal stability of PVC composites compared to higher ratios (2.5, 3.0, and 3.5). Replacing Mg with Zn in the LDHs had a similar effect to that of reducing the Mg/Al ratio. Crosslinking the laminae of LDHs with 5% silane coupling agent KH-560 reduced the surface basicity of LDHs by 79%, increasing the chromaticity index, b*, and thermal stability time of PVC composites by 48% and 14%, respectively. A descriptive relationship was established between the structure and surface basicity of LDHs and the initial whiteness and long-term thermal stability of PVC composites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Degradation and Stability of Polymer Based Systems)
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30 pages, 12420 KiB  
Article
Damping under Varying Frequencies, Mechanical Properties, and Failure Modes of Flax/Polypropylene Composites
by Md Zillur Rahman and Huaizhong Xu
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1042; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041042 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2351
Abstract
This work investigates the effects of fibre content, fibre orientation, and frequency on the dynamic behaviour of flax fibre-reinforced polypropylene composites (FFPCs) to improve understanding of the parameters affecting vibration damping in FFPCs. The effects of fibre content and fibre orientation on the [...] Read more.
This work investigates the effects of fibre content, fibre orientation, and frequency on the dynamic behaviour of flax fibre-reinforced polypropylene composites (FFPCs) to improve understanding of the parameters affecting vibration damping in FFPCs. The effects of fibre content and fibre orientation on the mechanical performances of FFPCs, along with fracture characteristics, are also investigated in this study. Laminates of various fibre contents and orientations were manufactured by a vacuum bagging process, and their dynamic and static properties were then obtained using dynamic (dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) to frequencies of 100 Hz) and various mechanical (tensile and flexural) analyses, respectively. The findings suggest that of all the parameters, fibre orientation has the most significant impact on the damping, and the maximum loss factor (i.e., 4.3–5.5%) is obtained for 45° and 60° fibre orientations. However, there is no significant difference in loss factors among the composites with different fibre contents. The loss factors lie mainly in the range of 4–5.5%, irrespective of the fibre volume fraction, fibre orientation, and frequency. A significant improvement (281 to 953%) in damping is feasible in flax fibre/polypropylene composites relative to more widespread glass/epoxy composites. The mechanical properties of composites are also strongly affected by fibre orientation with respect to the loading direction; for example, the tensile modulus decreases from 20 GPa to 3.45 GPa at an off-axis angle of 30° for a fibre volume fraction of 0.40. The largest mechanical properties (tensile and flexural) are found in the case of 0° fibre orientation. For composites with fibre volume fractions in the range 0.31–0.50, tensile moduli are in the range 16–21 GPa, and tensile strengths are in the range 125–173 MPa, while flexural moduli and strengths are in the ranges 12–15 GPa and 96–121 MPa, respectively, making them suitable for structural applications. The obtained results also suggest that flax fibre composites are comparable to glass fibre composites, especially in terms of specific stiffness. The ESEM analysis confirms the tensile failures of specimens due to fibre debonding, fibre pull-out and breakage, matrix cracking, and inadequate fibre/matrix adhesion. The outcomes from this study indicate that flax fibre-reinforced composite could be a commercially viable material for applications in which noise and vibration are significant issues and where a significant amount of damping is required with a combination of high stiffness and low weight. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Development in Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Composites)
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13 pages, 6068 KiB  
Communication
Enhanced Mechanical Property of Polyamide-6/Graphite Sheet Composites with Segregated 3D Network Binary Structure for High Thermal Conductivity
by Yao Gao, Yong Li, Xiangwei Kong and Meng Ma
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1041; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041041 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1903
Abstract
Segregated conductive polymer composites exhibit excellent electrical properties with a low percolation threshold. However, the mechanical properties of the segregated conductive polymer composites were always poor because the conductive fillers at the interfaces hinder polymer chain diffusion and thus lead to weak interfacial [...] Read more.
Segregated conductive polymer composites exhibit excellent electrical properties with a low percolation threshold. However, the mechanical properties of the segregated conductive polymer composites were always poor because the conductive fillers at the interfaces hinder polymer chain diffusion and thus lead to weak interfacial interaction between the conductive fillers and the polymer matrix. In this paper, polyamide-6 and polyamide-612 microspheres were synthesized via the in situ anionic ring opening of caprolactam and laurolactam. Segregated graphite sheets/polyamide-6(GS/PA6) and polyamide-612(PA612) composites with good mechanical properties were realized via high-pressure solid-phase compression molding. The microstructures of the composite samples were observed by scanning electron microscopy, which showed that the formation of a GS-conductive network at the PA6 granule interfaces in the segregated conductive structures and the adopting of PA612 considerably improved the interfacial adhesion of the composites. A superior impact strength of 5.1 kJ/m2 was achieved with 50 wt% PA612 loading owing to improvements in the interface compatibility between PA6 and GS. The composites possessed an ultralow percolation threshold, which was ascribed to the segregated network structure being successfully constructed inside the material. As for GS/PA6 composites, the combination of segregated GS-conductive networks achieved an ultralow percolation of 2.8 vol%. The percolation of 80PA6/20PA612-GS composites was slightly higher, measuring up to 3.2 vol%. Moreover, the thermal conductivity of the 80PA6/20PA612-GS composites increased from 0.26 to around 0.5 W/(m·K), which was 1.9 times larger than the pure polyamide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Composites and Nanocomposites)
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16 pages, 7052 KiB  
Article
Boosting the Antibacterial Performance of Natural Rubber Latex Foam by Introducing Silver-Doped Zinc Oxide
by Abdulhakim Masa, Nureeyah Jehsoh, Sawitree Dueramae and Nabil Hayeemasae
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1040; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041040 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1999
Abstract
Natural rubber (NR) latex foam is one of the rubber products that are increasingly in demand in the market. This is simply because of its lightweight, good thermal insulation, and resilience. The applications of NR latex foam are mostly for pillows and mattresses. [...] Read more.
Natural rubber (NR) latex foam is one of the rubber products that are increasingly in demand in the market. This is simply because of its lightweight, good thermal insulation, and resilience. The applications of NR latex foam are mostly for pillows and mattresses. This has resulted in these products requiring antibacterial performance which is very important for the safety of the end-users. In this study, the antibacterial NR latex foam was prepared by incorporating the silver-doped zinc oxide (Ag-doped ZnO) into the NR latex foam. Ag-doped ZnO was prepared by microwave-assisted method and then characterized through morphological characteristics and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The content of Ag doped onto ZnO was designed by varying the AgNO3 content at 15 wt%, 50 wt%, and 100 wt% of ZnO. The results confirmed that the Ag was successfully doped onto ZnO. The silver particles were found to be in the 40–50 nm range, where the size of ZnO ranges between 300 and 400 nm, and the Ag attached to the ZnO particles. The XRD patterns of Ag-doped ZnO correspond to planes of hexagonal wurtzite ZnO structure and cubic metallic Ag. This Ag-doped ZnO was further added to NR latex foam. It was observed that Ag-doped ZnO did not affect the physical properties of the NR latex foam. However, it is clear that both the inhibition zone and percent reduction of bacteria (e.g., E. coli and S. aureus) were enhanced by the addition of Ag-doped ZnO. It showed a decrease in the amount of cell growth over contact time. The content of 100 wt% AgNO3 could reduce E. coli and S. aureus up to 64.72% and 58.90%, respectively, when samples were maintained for 24 h. This study provides a scientific understanding of how Ag-doped ZnO could facilitate the development of eventual rubber foam products based on the respective results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Properties in Amorphous Polymers)
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21 pages, 11910 KiB  
Article
Ballistic Response of a Glass Fiber Composite for Two Levels of Threat
by George Ghiocel Ojoc, Larisa Chiper Titire, Cristian Munteniță, Cătălin Pîrvu, Simona Sandu and Lorena Deleanu
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1039; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041039 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1898
Abstract
This paper presents the behavior of composite panels based on glass fiber unidirectional fabrics and a bi-component epoxy resin under ballistic impacts that characterize two threat levels: FB2 and FB3, according to EN 1523:2004. The tested panels had characteristics kept in narrow ranges: [...] Read more.
This paper presents the behavior of composite panels based on glass fiber unidirectional fabrics and a bi-component epoxy resin under ballistic impacts that characterize two threat levels: FB2 and FB3, according to EN 1523:2004. The tested panels had characteristics kept in narrow ranges: thickness 18.26 ± 0.22 mm, mass ratio fabrics/panel 0.788 ± 0.015, surface density 27.51 ± 0.26 kg/m2. After testing the panels, the failure mechanisms of the panel were evidenced by scanning electron microscopy and photographs. Here the authors present a finite-element model at meso scale that was used for evaluating if the composite, initially tested at level FB2 (9 mm FMJ, v0 = 375 m/s), could withstand the higher level of impact, FB3 (projectile type 0.357 Magnum and impact velocity of v0 = 433 m/s). Simulation was performed in Explicit Dynamics (Ansys), keeping the same target but changing the projectile for the two different levels of threat. The results of the simulation were encouraging for making tests at level FB3, indicating the importance of alternating actual tests with simulations in order to achieve better protection with reduced surface weight. The simulation illustrated differences in impact duration and number of layers broken on the panel for each level. Validation of the model was based on the number of broken layers and the dimension of the delamination zone between the last two layers. Scanning electron microscopy was used for identifying failure mechanisms at the micro and meso scale. We found that damage to the composite was intensively dependent on impact velocity, this being quantitatively evaluated using the number of layers broken, the effect of delamination on separating layers and the deformation of the last layer. Full article
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20 pages, 3138 KiB  
Article
Optimization of Alkaline Extraction of Xylan-Based Hemicelluloses from Wheat Straws: Effects of Microwave, Ultrasound, and Freeze–Thaw Cycles
by Adrian Cătălin Puițel, Gabriel Dan Suditu, Elena Niculina Drăgoi, Maricel Danu, Gabriela-Liliana Ailiesei, Cătălin Dumitrel Balan, Daniela-Lucia Chicet and Mircea Teodor Nechita
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1038; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041038 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2124
Abstract
The alkaline extraction of hemicelluloses from a mixture of three varieties of wheat straw (containing 40.1% cellulose, 20.23% xylan, and 26.2% hemicellulose) was analyzed considering the following complementary pre-treatments: freeze–thaw cycles, microwaves, and ultrasounds. The two cycles freeze–thaw approach was selected based on [...] Read more.
The alkaline extraction of hemicelluloses from a mixture of three varieties of wheat straw (containing 40.1% cellulose, 20.23% xylan, and 26.2% hemicellulose) was analyzed considering the following complementary pre-treatments: freeze–thaw cycles, microwaves, and ultrasounds. The two cycles freeze–thaw approach was selected based on simplicity and energy savings for further analysis and optimization. Experiments planned with Design Expert were performed. The regression model determined through the response surface methodology based on the severity factor (defined as a function of time and temperature) and alkali concentration as variables was then used to optimize the process in a multi-objective case considering the possibility of further use for pulping. To show the properties and chemical structure of the separated hemicelluloses, several analytical methods were used: high-performance chromatography (HPLC), Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-NMR), thermogravimetry and derivative thermogravimetry analysis (TG, DTG), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The verified experimental optimization result indicated the possibility of obtaining hemicelluloses material containing 3.40% glucan, 85.51% xylan, and 7.89% arabinan. The association of hot alkaline extraction with two freeze–thaw cycles allows the partial preservation of the hemicellulose polymeric structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Natural Polymers: Extraction Methods and Applications)
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16 pages, 3511 KiB  
Article
Design Analysis and Actuation Performance of a Push-Pull Dielectric Elastomer Actuator
by Wenjie Sun, Bin Zhao and Fei Zhang
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1037; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041037 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1890
Abstract
Dielectric elastomer actuation has been extensively investigated and applied to bionic robotics and intelligent actuators due to its status as an excellent actuation technique. As a conical dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) structure extension, push-pull DEA has been explored in controlled acoustics, microfluidics, and [...] Read more.
Dielectric elastomer actuation has been extensively investigated and applied to bionic robotics and intelligent actuators due to its status as an excellent actuation technique. As a conical dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) structure extension, push-pull DEA has been explored in controlled acoustics, microfluidics, and multi-stable actuation due to its simple fabrication and outstanding performance. In this paper, a theoretical model is developed to describe the electromechanical behavior of push-pull DEA based on the force balance of the mass block in an actuator. The accuracy of the proposed model is experimentally validated by employing the mass block in the construction of the actuator as the object of study. The actuation displacement of the actuator is used as the evaluation indication to investigate the effect of key design parameters on the actuation performance of the actuator, its failure mode, and critical failure voltage. A dynamic actuator model is proposed and used with experimental data to explain the dynamic response of the actuator, its natural frequency, and the effect of variables. This work provides a strong theoretical background for dielectric elastomer actuators, as well as practical design and implementation experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Applications)
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17 pages, 3682 KiB  
Article
Interaction of Lysozyme with Poly(L-lysine)/Hyaluronic Acid Multilayers: An ATR-FTIR Study
by Natalia Velk, Janos Keller, Claus Duschl, Gerald Brezesinski and Dmitry Volodkin
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1036; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041036 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1591
Abstract
Polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEM) loaded with bioactive molecules such as proteins serve as excellent mimics of an extracellular matrix and may find applications in fields such as biomedicine and cell biology. A question which is crucial to the successful employment of PEMs is whether [...] Read more.
Polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEM) loaded with bioactive molecules such as proteins serve as excellent mimics of an extracellular matrix and may find applications in fields such as biomedicine and cell biology. A question which is crucial to the successful employment of PEMs is whether conformation and bioactivity of the loaded proteins is preserved. In this work, the polarized attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) technique is applied to investigate the conformation of the protein lysozyme (Lys) loaded into the poly(L-lysine)/hyaluronic acid (PLL/HA) multilayers. Spectra are taken from the protein in the PEMs coated onto an ATR crystal during protein adsorption and desorption. For comparison, a similar investigation is performed for the case of Lys in contact with the uncoated crystal. The study highlights the presence of both “tightly” and “poorly bound” Lys fractions in the PEM. These fractions differ in their conformation and release behavior from the PEM upon washing. Comparison of spectra recorded with different polarizations suggests preferential orientation of alpha helical structures, beta sheets and turns in the “tightly bound” Lys. In contrast, the “poorly bound” fraction shows isotropic orientation and its conformation is well preserved. Full article
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15 pages, 3701 KiB  
Article
Non-Bulk Morphologies of Extremely Thin Block Copolymer Films Cast on Topographically Defined Substrates Featuring Deep Trenches: The Importance of Lateral Confinement
by Elisheva Michman, Meirav Oded and Roy Shenhar
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1035; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041035 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1515
Abstract
Directed self-assembly of block copolymers is evolving toward applications that are more defect-tolerant but still require high morphological control and could benefit from simple, inexpensive fabrication processes. Previously, we demonstrated that simply casting ultra-thin block copolymer films on topographically defined substrates leads to [...] Read more.
Directed self-assembly of block copolymers is evolving toward applications that are more defect-tolerant but still require high morphological control and could benefit from simple, inexpensive fabrication processes. Previously, we demonstrated that simply casting ultra-thin block copolymer films on topographically defined substrates leads to hierarchical structures with dual patterns in a controlled manner and unraveled the dependence of the local morphology on the topographic feature dimensions. In this article, we discuss the extreme of the ultraconfined thickness regime at the border of film dewetting. Additional non-bulk morphologies are observed at this extreme, which further elaborate the arsenal of dual patterns that could be obtained in coexistence with full placement control. It is shown that as the thickness confinement approaches its limit, lateral confinement imposed by the width of the plateaus becomes a critical factor influencing the local morphology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Block Copolymers: Synthesis, Self-Assembly and Application)
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13 pages, 3054 KiB  
Article
Physical Chemical Investigation of Gamma-Irradiated Parchment for Preservation of Cultural Heritage
by Ion Bogdan Lungu, Lucretia Miu, Mihalis Cutrubinis and Ioana Stanculescu
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1034; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041034 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1925
Abstract
The historical artefacts of parchment are prone to degradation if the storage conditions are improper due to the collagen structure having a limited stability under physical, chemical, and biological agent attacks. The parchment structure is difficult to characterize due to the variety of [...] Read more.
The historical artefacts of parchment are prone to degradation if the storage conditions are improper due to the collagen structure having a limited stability under physical, chemical, and biological agent attacks. The parchment structure is difficult to characterize due to the variety of manufacturing traditions (eastern/western), intrinsic variability of skins (i.e., species, breeding variation, living conditions, effects of pathologies, etc.), biodeterioration, and aging, and the main concern in its analysis is its uniformity. The deterioration of parchment collagen produces a rather stiff or in some circumstances, a relaxed structure. Any intervention or treatment of unique, very precious cultural heritage artefacts must not negatively influence the properties of the component materials. Gamma irradiation is a relatively new technique of bioremediation. Data on the leather properties pre- and post-ionizing radiation bioremediation treatments are few in the literature. Fewer data are available on the historical leather and parchment physical chemical characteristics after ionizing gamma irradiation. This research had two main objectives: (i) the characterization of the parchment structure’s uniformity across the analyzed areas and its mechanical properties, i.e., tensile stress by mechanical tests and ATR-FTIR spectroscopy; and (ii) to establish parchment tolerance when exposed to ionizing gamma radiation as a pre-requisite for cultural heritage preservation irradiation treatment. It was found that the mechanical tests and ATR-FTIR spectroscopy may identify changes in the parchment’s irradiated structure and that the preservation of cultural heritage parchment artefacts may be performed at maximum 15 kGy gamma irradiation dose. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Applications)
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10 pages, 4208 KiB  
Article
Material-Preserving Extrusion of Polyamide on a Twin-Screw Extruder
by Christoph Schall, Matthias Altepeter, Volker Schöppner, Sven Wanke and Marina Kley
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1033; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041033 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1638
Abstract
In the context of plastics recycling, plastics are processed several times. With each new melting and extrusion the plastic is damaged, which can have a negative effect on product properties. To counteract material damage, special additives such as chain extenders can be used, [...] Read more.
In the context of plastics recycling, plastics are processed several times. With each new melting and extrusion the plastic is damaged, which can have a negative effect on product properties. To counteract material damage, special additives such as chain extenders can be used, which are intended to lead to post-polymerization during processing. A linear chain extension is important here, as branching and crosslinking can lead to uncontrolled changes in the plastic’s properties. To investigate the suitability of specialized linear chain extenders for polyamides, a polyamide-6 was processed several times and the molar mass distribution was evaluated after each extrusion cycle. Three series of tests were carried out. First, the plastic was regranulated five times without additives and twice with different concentrations of chain extenders on a twin-screw extruder. The results of the study show that not only can molar mass degradation be prevented with the appropriate additive, it is even possible to achieve a material buildup during processing. In our experiments, the polydispersity of the molar mass distribution remained nearly identical despite multiple extrusions. Thus, reactive extrusion makes it possible for the corresponding plastics to be processed several times without the molar mass decreasing. If a sufficiently pure material flow can be ensured during recycling, the number of possible reprocessings of the plastic can be significantly increased without the need to add virgin material. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances of Polymer Processing and Molding)
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18 pages, 4293 KiB  
Article
Preparation and Interfacial Properties of Hydroxyl-Containing Polyimide Fibers
by Jiang Du, Chuanzhi Pu, Xianyu Sun, Qi Wang, Hongqing Niu and Dezhen Wu
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1032; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041032 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1916
Abstract
Developing polyimide (PI) fibers with excellent interfacial adhesion and high mechanical properties for the PI fiber-reinforced polymer matrix composites (PFRPs) industry has been challenging. In this work, 4,4′-diamino-(1,1′-biphenyl)-3,3′-diol (HAB) diamine was introduced into the rigid molecular chains, and the high-performance PI fibers, presenting [...] Read more.
Developing polyimide (PI) fibers with excellent interfacial adhesion and high mechanical properties for the PI fiber-reinforced polymer matrix composites (PFRPs) industry has been challenging. In this work, 4,4′-diamino-(1,1′-biphenyl)-3,3′-diol (HAB) diamine was introduced into the rigid molecular chains, and the high-performance PI fibers, presenting an interfacial shear strength (IFSS) value of 46.33 MPa, tensile strength of 2.62 GPa, and modulus of 100.15 GPa, were successfully manufactured when the content of HAB in mixed diamines was 30 mol %. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy identified the presence of intermolecular H-bonding interactions, and 2D small-angle X-ray scattering indicated that the introduction of HAB moiety contributed to reducing the radii of microvoids in the fibers, which were considered to be the key factors leading to a significant enhancement in the mechanical properties of the fibers. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and the static contact angle intuitively illustrated that the synthetic fiber surface contained active hydroxyl groups. The IFSS value of PI fiber/epoxy resin composites (PI/EPs) was 56.47 MPa when the content of HAB reached 70 mol %. Failure morphologies confirmed that the interfacial adhesion of PI/EPs was enhanced owing to the surface activity of PI fibers. Consequently, this study provides an effective strategy to the long-standing problems of high mechanical performances and poor surface activity for traditional PI fibers used in the PFRPs industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Films for Photovoltaic Applications II)
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16 pages, 4950 KiB  
Article
Study on Degradation of Natural Rubber Latex Using Hydrogen Peroxide and Sodium Nitrite in the Presence of Formic Acid
by Kraiwut Wisetkhamsai, Weerawat Patthaveekongka and Wanvimon Arayapranee
Polymers 2023, 15(4), 1031; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15041031 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3300
Abstract
Liquid natural rubber (LNR), a depolymerized natural rubber (NR) consisting of shorter chains, was prepared via oxidative degradation using NaNO2 and H2O2 degrading agents in the presence of HCOOH. The influence of reagent concentrations, temperature, and reaction time on [...] Read more.
Liquid natural rubber (LNR), a depolymerized natural rubber (NR) consisting of shorter chains, was prepared via oxidative degradation using NaNO2 and H2O2 degrading agents in the presence of HCOOH. The influence of reagent concentrations, temperature, and reaction time on the number-average molecular weight (Mn) was studied. Results showed the higher concentration of H2O2 and HCOOH employed faster degradative rates. However, a higher concentration of NaNO2 decreased the Mn reduction. Prolonged reaction time and high temperature resulted in a product with low Mn. FTIR spectra indicated the synthesized LNR contained hydroxyl end groups resulting from the breaking of the NR chains at an acidic pH, whereas a carboxyl terminated LNR was formed at an alkaline pH. SEM micrographs showed the latex particles of LNR were spherical and smaller compared to NR. The experimental results showed the reaction orders of [H2O2], [HCOOH], and [NaNO2] were 1.58, 0.79, and −0.65, respectively. In addition, the pre-exponential factor and activation energy were 1.04 × 109 M−1.72 t−1 and 78.66 kJ/mol, respectively. Based on TGA analysis, the thermal stability of the rubber depended on its Mn. The LNR containing functional end groups exhibited thermal instability and could be a starting material for many applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Analysis and Characterization)
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