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Polymers 2017, 9(9), 406;

Triethyl Citrate (TEC) as a Dispersing Aid in Polylactic Acid/Chitin Nanocomposites Prepared via Liquid-Assisted Extrusion

Division of Materials Science, Composite Center Sweden, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå SE-97187, Sweden
Biorefinery Processes Research Group, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Guipúzcoa, University of the Basque Country, Plaza Europa 1, Donostia-San Sebastian 20018, Spain
Division of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University, Stockholm SE-10691, Sweden
Fibre and Particle Engineering, University of Oulu, Oulu FIN-90014, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 August 2017 / Revised: 27 August 2017 / Accepted: 28 August 2017 / Published: 31 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Nanocomposites)
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The production of fully bio-based and biodegradable nanocomposites has gained attention during recent years due to environmental reasons; however, the production of these nanocomposites on the large-scale is challenging. Polylactic acid/chitin nanocrystal (PLA/ChNC) nanocomposites with triethyl citrate (TEC) at varied concentrations (2.5, 5.0, and 7.5 wt %) were prepared using liquid-assisted extrusion. The goal was to find the minimum amount of the TEC plasticizer needed to enhance the ChNC dispersion. The microscopy study showed that the dispersion and distribution of the ChNC into PLA improved with the increasing TEC content. Hence, the nanocomposite with the highest plasticizer content (7.5 wt %) showed the highest optical transparency and improved thermal and mechanical properties compared with its counterpart without the ChNC. Gel permeation chromatography confirmed that the water and ethanol used during the extrusion did not degrade PLA. Further, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy showed improved interaction between PLA and ChNC through hydrogen bonding when TEC was added. All results confirmed that the plasticizer plays an important role as a dispersing aid in the processing of PLA/ChNC nanocomposites. View Full-Text
Keywords: chitin nanocrystals; biopolymer; nanocomposite; extrusion; dispersion chitin nanocrystals; biopolymer; nanocomposite; extrusion; dispersion

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Herrera, N.; Singh, A.A.; Salaberria, A.M.; Labidi, J.; Mathew, A.P.; Oksman, K. Triethyl Citrate (TEC) as a Dispersing Aid in Polylactic Acid/Chitin Nanocomposites Prepared via Liquid-Assisted Extrusion. Polymers 2017, 9, 406.

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