Summary: Environmentally friendly starch biocomposites were successfully developed using a colloidal suspension of cottonseed linter cellulose crystallite as a filler to reinforce glycerol plasticized starch (PS). The cellulose crystallites, having lengths of 350 ± 70 nm and diameters of 40 ± 8 nm on average, were prepared from cottonseed linters by acid hydrolysis. The dependence of morphology and properties of the PS-based biocomposites on cellulose crystallites content in the range from 0 to 30 wt.-% was investigated by scanning electron microscopy, differential scanning thermal analysis, dynamic mechanical thermal analysis, and measurements of mechanical properties and water absorption. The results indicate that the strong interactions between fillers and between the filler and PS matrix play a key role in reinforcing the resulting composites. The PS/cellulose crystallite composites, conditioned at 50% relative humidity, undergo an increase in both tensile strength and Young's modulus from 2.5 MPa for PS film to 7.8 MPa and from 36 MPa for PS film to 301 MPa. Further, incorporating cottonseed linter cellulose crystallites into PS matrix leads to an improvement in water resistance for the resulting biocomposites.
The mechanical behaviors of the starch-based biocomposites as a function of cellulose crystallites content.