Indexed on: 31 Jul '12Published on: 31 Jul '12Published in: Carbohydrate Polymers
The aim of this paper is to report the impact of the addition of cellulose nanocrystals on the barrier properties and on the migration behaviour of poly(lactic acid), PLA, based nano-biocomposites prepared by the solvent casting method. Their microstructure, crystallinity, barrier and overall migration properties were investigated. Pristine (CNC) and surfactant-modified cellulose nanocrystals (s-CNC) were used, and the effect of the cellulose modification and content in the nano-biocomposites was investigated. The presence of surfactant on the nanocrystal surface favours the dispersion of CNC in the PLA matrix. Electron microscopy analysis shows the good dispersion of s-CNC in the nanoscale with well-defined single crystals indicating that the surfactant allowed a better interaction between the cellulose structures and the PLA matrix. Reductions of 34% in water permeability were obtained for the cast films containing 1 wt.% of s-CNC while good oxygen barrier properties were detected for nano-biocomposites with both 1 wt.% and 5 wt.% of modified and un-modified cellulose nanocrystals, underlining the improvement provided by cellulose on the PLA films. Moreover, the migration level of the studied nano-biocomposites was below the overall migration limits required by the current normative for food packaging materials in both non-polar and polar simulants.