Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 301-306

First online:

Application of Cellulose Microfibrils in Polymer Nanocomposites

  • William J. OrtsAffiliated withUSDA Western Regional Research Center Email author 
  • , Justin SheyAffiliated withUSDA Western Regional Research Center
  • , Syed H. ImamAffiliated withUSDA Western Regional Research Center
  • , Gregory M. GlennAffiliated withUSDA Western Regional Research Center
  • , Mara E. GuttmanAffiliated withUSDA Western Regional Research Center
  • , Jean-Francois RevolAffiliated withPAPRICAN

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Cellulose microfibrils obtained by the acid hydrolysis of cellulose fibers were added at low concentrations (2–10% w/w) to polymer gels and films as reinforcing agents. Significant changes in mechanical properties, especially maximum load and tensile strength, were obtained for fibrils derived from several cellulosic sources, including cotton, softwood, and bacterial cellulose. For extruded starch plastics, the addition of cotton-derived microfibrils at 10.3% (w/w) concentration increased Young’s modulus by 5-fold relative to a control sample with no cellulose reinforcement. Preliminary data suggests that shear alignment significantly improves tensile strength. Addition of microfibrils does not always change mechanical properties in a predictable direction. Whereas tensile strength and modulus were shown to increase during addition of microfibrils to an extruded starch thermoplastic and a cast latex film, these parameters decreased when microfibrils were added to a starch–pectin blend, implying that complex interactions are involved in the application of these reinforcing agents.

Cellulose crystallites microfibrils nanoparticles composites nanocomposites starch latex pectin