Special Issue "Environmentally Friendly Polymeric Blends from Renewable Sources"

A special issue of Materials (ISSN 1996-1944). This special issue belongs to the section "Advanced Composites".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Barbara Gawdzik
Website
Guest Editor
Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Department of Polymer Chemistry, Lublin, Poland
Interests: Synthesis of new monomers and polymers; chemical modification of synthetic and natural polymers; synthesis of porous polymers for applications in various chromatographic techniques; synthesis of novel polymer-based adsorbents having desired properties for health and environmental protection; synthesis and applications of imprinted polymers; synthesis and investigations of carbon adsorbents from synthetic and natural polymers; chromatographic analysis; investigations of porous structure of polymeric materials; use of recycled polymers in the synthesis; environmental protection, wasteless processes.
Prof. Olena Sevastyanova
Website
Guest Editor
Wallenberg Wood Science Center, Department of Fibre and Polymer Technology, KTH-The Royal Institute of Technology, Teknikringen 56-58, Stockholm 10044, Sweden
Interests: wood chemistry; chemistry of pulping and bleaching; extraction and structural characterization of biomass-derived polymers; physical and chemical modification of natural polymers; development of novel materials from biomass-derived polymers for uses in environmental protection and healthcare
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Materials from renewable resources have attracted increasing attention in the past decades as a result of environmental concerns and due to the depletion of petroleum resources. Polymeric materials from renewable sources have a long history. They were used in ancient times and later accompanied man along with the development of civilization. Currently, they are widespread in many areas of life and used, for example, in packaging and in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries.

Polymers from renewable resources are generally classified into three groups: i) Natural polymers, such as cellulose, starch, and proteins; ii) synthetic polymers from natural monomers, such as poly(lactic acid); and iii) polymers from microbial processes, such as poly(hydroxybutyrate). The emergence of new methods and analytical tools provides a new level of understanding of the structure–properties relationship of natural polymers and allows the development of materials for new applications.

One of the attractive properties of the natural polymers and synthetic polymers produced from natural monomers is their inherited biodegradability. However, this is related to their moisture sensitivity, which limits their application. Other important limitations of most polymers from renewable resources are their lower softening temperature and mechanical strength. These and many other properties of polymers can be modified and improved through the blending of two or more compounds, for example, two or more polymers, polymers and fibers, polymers and nanoparticles, etc.

A blending approach is an effective way to achieve a desirable combination of properties which are often absent in the individual components. The final properties can be modified by changing the relative concentration and kind of monomeric units used in the synthesis or by varying the proportion of homopolymers and various additives in a blend composition. Development of effective methods of manufacturing products from blends of renewable polymers and environmentally friendly synthetic polymers in a controlled way is the challenge of our time.

The aim of this Special Issue is to highlight progress in the manufacturing, characterization, and applications of environmentally friendly polymeric blends from renewable resources. It is our pleasure to invite you to submit your manuscript for it.

Prof. Barbara Gawdzik
Dr. Olena Sevastyanova
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Keywords

  • Polymer blends
  • Renewable resources
  • Environmentally friendly polymers
  • Biodegradability

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Nanocomposite Polymeric Materials Based on Eucalyptus Lignoboost® Kraft Lignin for Liquid Sensing Applications
Materials 2020, 13(7), 1637; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma13071637 - 02 Apr 2020
Abstract
This study reports the synthesis of polyurethane–lignin copolymer blended with carbon multilayer nanotubes to be used in all-solid-state potentiometric chemical sensors. Known applicability of lignin-based polyurethanes doped with carbon nanotubes for chemical sensing was extended to eucalyptus LignoBoost® kraft lignin containing increased [...] Read more.
This study reports the synthesis of polyurethane–lignin copolymer blended with carbon multilayer nanotubes to be used in all-solid-state potentiometric chemical sensors. Known applicability of lignin-based polyurethanes doped with carbon nanotubes for chemical sensing was extended to eucalyptus LignoBoost® kraft lignin containing increased amounts of polyphenolic groups from concomitant tannins that were expected to impart specificity and sensitivity to the sensing material. Synthesized polymers were characterized using FT-MIR spectroscopy, electrical impedance spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, and differential scanning calorimetry and are used for manufacturing of all solid-state potentiometric sensors. Potentiometric sensor with LignoBoost® kraft lignin-based polyurethane membrane displayed theoretical response and high selectivity to Cu (II) ions, as well as long-term stability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Friendly Polymeric Blends from Renewable Sources)
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Open AccessArticle
Composites of Unsaturated Polyester Resins with Microcrystalline Cellulose and Its Derivatives
Materials 2020, 13(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma13010062 - 21 Dec 2019
Abstract
The paper investigates the properties of unsaturated polyester resins and microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) composites. The influence of MCC modification on mechanical, thermomechanical, and thermal properties of obtained materials was discussed. In order to reduce the hydrophilic character of the MCC surface, it was [...] Read more.
The paper investigates the properties of unsaturated polyester resins and microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) composites. The influence of MCC modification on mechanical, thermomechanical, and thermal properties of obtained materials was discussed. In order to reduce the hydrophilic character of the MCC surface, it was subjected to esterification with the methacrylic anhydride. This resulted in hydroxyl groups blocking and, additionally, the introduction of unsaturated bonds into its structure, which could participate in copolymerization with the curing resin. Composites of varying amounts of cellulose as a filler were obtained from modified MCC and unmodified (comparative) MCC. The modification of MCC resulted in obtaining composites characterized by greater flexural strength and strain at break compared with the analogous composites based on the unmodified MCC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Friendly Polymeric Blends from Renewable Sources)
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Open AccessArticle
Explorative Study on the Use of Curauá Reinforced Polypropylene Composites for the Automotive Industry
Materials 2019, 12(24), 4185; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma12244185 - 12 Dec 2019
Abstract
The automotive industry is under a growing volume of regulations regarding environmental impact and component recycling. Nowadays, glass fiber-based composites are commodities in the automotive industry, but show limitations when recycled. Thus, attention is being devoted to alternative reinforcements like natural fibers. Curauá [...] Read more.
The automotive industry is under a growing volume of regulations regarding environmental impact and component recycling. Nowadays, glass fiber-based composites are commodities in the automotive industry, but show limitations when recycled. Thus, attention is being devoted to alternative reinforcements like natural fibers. Curauá (Curacao, Ananas erectifolius) is reported in the literature as a promising source of natural fiber prone to be used as composite reinforcement. Nonetheless, one important challenge is to obtain properly dispersed materials, especially when the percentages of reinforcements are higher than 30 wt %. In this work, composite materials with curauá fiber contents ranging from 20 wt % to 50 wt % showed a linear positive evolution of its tensile strength and Young’s modulus against reinforcement content. This is an indication of good reinforcement dispersion and of favorable stress transfer at the fiber-matrix interphase. A car door handle was used as a test case to assess the suitability of curauá-based composites to replace glass fiber-reinforced composites. The mechanical analysis and a preliminary lifecycle analysis are performed to prove such ability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Friendly Polymeric Blends from Renewable Sources)
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Open AccessArticle
Biobased Composites from Biobased-Polyethylene and Barley Thermomechanical Fibers: Micromechanics of Composites
Materials 2019, 12(24), 4182; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma12244182 - 12 Dec 2019
Abstract
The cultivation of cereals like rye, barley, oats, or wheat generates large quantities of agroforestry residues, which reaches values of around 2066 million metric tons/year. Barley straw alone represents 53%. In this work, barley straw is recommended for the production of composite materials [...] Read more.
The cultivation of cereals like rye, barley, oats, or wheat generates large quantities of agroforestry residues, which reaches values of around 2066 million metric tons/year. Barley straw alone represents 53%. In this work, barley straw is recommended for the production of composite materials in order to add value to this agricultural waste. First of all, thermomechanical (TMP) fibers from barley straw are produced and later used to reinforce bio-polyethylene (BioPE) matrix. TMP barley fibers were chemically and morphologically characterized. Later, composites with optimal amounts of coupling agent and fiber content ranging from 15 to 45 wt % were prepared. The mechanical results showed the strengthening and stiffening capacity of the TMP barley fibers. Finally, a micromechanical analysis is applied to evaluate the quality of the interface and to distinguish how the interface and the fiber morphology contributes to the final properties of these composite materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Friendly Polymeric Blends from Renewable Sources)
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Open AccessArticle
Radiation Synthesis of Pentaethylene Hexamine Functionalized Cotton Linter for Effective Removal of Phosphate: Batch and Dynamic Flow Mode Studies
Materials 2019, 12(20), 3393; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma12203393 - 17 Oct 2019
Abstract
A quaternized cotton linter fiber (QCLF) based adsorbent for removal of phosphate was prepared by grafting glycidyl methacrylate onto cotton linter and subsequent ring-opening reaction of epoxy groups and further quaternization. The adsorption behavior of the QCLF for phosphate was evaluated in a [...] Read more.
A quaternized cotton linter fiber (QCLF) based adsorbent for removal of phosphate was prepared by grafting glycidyl methacrylate onto cotton linter and subsequent ring-opening reaction of epoxy groups and further quaternization. The adsorption behavior of the QCLF for phosphate was evaluated in a batch and column experiment. The batch experiment demonstrated that the adsorption process followed pseudo-second-order kinetics with an R2 value of 0.9967, and the Langmuir model with R2 value of 0.9952. The theoretical maximum adsorption capacity reached 152.44 mg/g. The experimental data of the fixed-bed column were well fitted with the Thomas and Yoon–Nelson models, and the adsorption capacity of phosphate at 100 mg/L and flow rate 1 mL/min reached 141.58 mg/g. The saturated QCLF could be regenerated by eluting with 1 M HCl. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Friendly Polymeric Blends from Renewable Sources)
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Lignin Diversity on the Structural and Thermal Properties of Polymeric Microspheres Derived from Lignin, Styrene, and/or Divinylbenzene
Materials 2019, 12(18), 2847; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma12182847 - 04 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This work investigates the impact of lignin origin and structural characteristics, such as molecular weight and functionality, on the properties of corresponding porous biopolymeric microspheres obtained through suspension-emulsion polymerization of lignin with styrene (St) and/or divinylbenzene (DVB). Two types of kraft lignin, which [...] Read more.
This work investigates the impact of lignin origin and structural characteristics, such as molecular weight and functionality, on the properties of corresponding porous biopolymeric microspheres obtained through suspension-emulsion polymerization of lignin with styrene (St) and/or divinylbenzene (DVB). Two types of kraft lignin, which are softwood (Picea abies L.) and hardwood (Eucalyptus grandis), fractionated by common industrial solvents, and related methacrylates, were used in the synthesis. The presence of the appropriate functional groups in the lignins and in the corresponding microspheres were investigated by attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR/FT-IR), while the thermal properties were studied by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The texture of the microspheres was characterized using low-temperature nitrogen adsorption. The swelling studies were performed in typical organic solvents and distilled water. The shapes of the microspheres were confirmed with an optical microscope. The introduction of lignin into a St and/or DVB polymeric system made it possible to obtain highly porous functionalized microspheres that increase their sorption potential. Lignin methacrylates created a polymer network with St and DVB, whereas the unmodified lignin acted mainly as an eco-friendly filler in the pores of St-DVB or DVB microspheres. The incorporation of biopolymer into the microspheres could be a promising alternative to a modification of synthetic materials and a better utilization of lignin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Friendly Polymeric Blends from Renewable Sources)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Planned Paper 1

Title: Biocomposites from rice straw nanofibers: morphology, thermal and mechanical properties
Authors: José Carlos Alcántara 1, Israel González 2 M. Mercè Pareta 3 and Fabiola Vilaseca 1,4,*
Affiliations:
1 Advanced Biomaterial and Nanotechnology, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Polytechnic School, University of Girona, C/M. Aurèlia Capmany, 61, 17003 Girona, Spain
2LEPAMAP Group, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Polytechnic School, University of Girona, C/M. Aurèlia Capmany, 61, 17003 Girona, Spain
3Dept. of Architecture and Construction, Polytechnic School, Campus Montility, University of Girona, 17003 Girona, Spain
4Dept. of Fiber and Polymer Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Planned Paper 2

Title: The influence of lignin diversity on the structural and thermal properties of polymeric microspheres
Authors:Marta Goliszek 1, Beata Podkościelna 1, Olena Sevastyanova 2, Barbara Gawdzik 1, Artur Chabros 1
Affiliations:
1
Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Faculty of Chemistry, Department of Polymer Chemistry, M. Curie-Sklodowska Sq. 3, 20-031 Lublin, Poland
2 KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Fibre and Polymer Technology, Wallenberg Wood Science Center, SE-10044, Stockholm, Sweden
Abstract: This work investigates the impact of lignin fractionation process on the properties of biopolymeric materials in the form of porous microspheres. Two types of kraft lignin, softwood (Norwegian spruce) and hardwood (Eucalyptus grandis), fractionated by common industrial solvents (ethyl acetate, methanol and ethanol) into materials with low polydispersity, varied molecular weight and functionalities (contents of carboxylic, phenolic and aliphatic hydroxyl groups) were used for the synthesis of polymeric microspheres with styrene (St) and/or divinylbenzene (DVB). For the synthesis of microspheres, both unmodified and modified with methacryloyl chloride lignin was used. The chemical structures of the lignin and corresponding microspheres were investigated by ATR/FT-IR method, while the thermal properties were studied by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The microsphere’s texture was characterized using low-temperature nitrogen adsorption analysis. The swelling studies were performed in typical organic solvents and distilled water. The shapes of the microspheres were confirmed by optical microscope. The introduction of lignin fractions into polymeric system allowed to obtain functionalized microspheres with highly developed porosity that increases their potential in sorption processes. Chemically modified lignin took part in the creation of polymer network with St and DVB, whereas an unmodified one acted mainly as an ecofriendly filler. The incorporation of biopolymer into the structure of microspheres could be a promising alternative to modification of synthetic materials and to better utilization of lignin.
Keywords: Lignin; microspheres; composites; polymeric material; fractionation; porosity

Planned Paper 3:

Title: Biobased composites from BioPE and Barley thermomechanical fibers: Micromechanics of composites
Author: Serra-Parareda, F.a, Tarrés, Q.a, Delgado-Aguilar, M.a, Espinach, F.X.b, Mutjé, P.a, Vilaseca, Fc,d*
Affiliation:
a LEPAMAP Group, Dpt. of Chemical Engineering, University of Girona, Girona 17003, Spain
b Design, Development and Product Innovation, Dept. of Organization, Business, University of Girona, Girona 17003, Spain
c Advanced Biomaterials and Nanotechnology, Dpt. of Chemical Engineering, University of Girona, Girona 17003, Spain
d Dept. of Fiber and Polymer Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Planned Paper 4

Title: Curauá fibers as potential substitute of glass-fiber in polypropylene-based composites for the automotive sector: a technical and environmental approach
Authors:  
Delgado-Aguilar, M.a, Espinach, F.X.b, Julián, F.b, Tarrés, Q.a, Mutjé, Pa., Vilaseca, F.c,d,
Affiliation:
a LEPAMAP group, University of Girona. C/ Maria Aurèlia Capmany – 17003 Girona (Spain)
b Design, Development and Product Innovation, Department of Organization, Business Management and Product Design, University of Girona, 17003 Girona, Spain 
c Advanced Biomaterials and Nanotechnology, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Polytechnic School, University of Girona, C/M. Aurèlia Capmany, 61, 17003 Girona, Spain
d Dept. of Fiber and Polymer Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Abstract:
During the last years, the environmental awareness on the use of plastics in our daily life has raised significantly. A clear example is the recent Directive on single-use-plastics proposed by the European Commission to tackle marine litter. Plastics are very often reinforced with glass, carbon or aramid fibers, which are not bio-based or biodegradable and the automotive sector is one major consumer. Curauá plant belongs to the Bromeliad family and grows in the Amazon region. The chemical composition and the intrinsic properties of Curauá fibers make them attractive as reinforcement for thermoplastics, to substitute mineral fibers. In this work, composite materials based on polypropylene reinforced with curauá fibers are proposed to develop automotive parts (arm rest and glove box lid). From the studied formulations, Young’s modulus of around 6 GPa was reached and increments of about 100% for the flexural strength were obtained. A finite element analysis of the proposed automotive parts, together with a carbon footprint analysis, demonstrated the ability of curauá-based composites to be used in replacement of glass fiber-based materials for the considered applications.

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