Nanocomposites of ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer with thermally resistant cellulose nanowhiskers by melt compounding (I): Morphology and thermal properties



In this study, ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH) nanocomposites were prepared by melt compounding both plant cellulose nanowhiskers (CNW) and bacterial cellulose nanowhiskers (BCNW) as nanofillers. Electrospinning and a “dissolution precipitation” method were used as strategies for the incorporation of CNW in EVOH before melt compounding with the aim of enhancing the degree of dispersion of the nanocrystals when compared with direct melt-mixing of the freeze-dried product with the polymer. As revealed by morphological characterization, the proposed preincorporation methods led to a significant improvement in the dispersion of the nanofiller in the final nanocomposite films. Furthermore, it was possible to incorporate concentrations as high as 4 wt % BCNW without causing significant agglomeration of the nanofiller, whereas increasing the CNW concentration up to 3 wt % induced agglomeration. Finally, DSC studies indicated that the crystalline content was significantly reduced when the incorporation method led to a poor dispersion of the nanocrystals, whereas high-nanofiller dispersion resulted in thermal properties similar to those of the neat EVOH. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013