Incorporation of Carbon Nanofillers Tunes Mechanical and Electrical Percolation in PHBV:PLA Blends
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Biobased fillers, such as bio-derived cellulose, lignin byproducts, and biochar, can be used to modify the thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties of polymer composites. Biochar (BioC), in particular, is of interest for enhancing thermal and electrical conductivities in composites, and can potentially serve as a bio-derived graphitic carbon alternative for certain composite applications. In this work, we investigate a blended biopolymer system: poly(lactic acid) (PLA)/poly(hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV), and addition of carbon black (CB), a commonly used functional filler as a comparison for Kraft lignin-derived BioC. We present calculations and experimental results for phase-separation and nanofiller phase affinity in this system, indicating that the CB localizes in the PHBV phase of the immiscible PHBV:PLA blends. The addition of BioC led to a deleterious reaction with the biopolymers, as indicated by blend morphology, differential scanning calorimetry showing significant melting peak reduction for the PLA phase, and a reduction in melt viscosity. For the CB nanofilled composites, electrical conductivity and dynamic mechanical analysis supported the ability to use phase separation in these blends to tune the percolation of mechanical and electrical properties, with a minimum percolation threshold found for the 80:20 blends of 1.6 wt.% CB. At 2% BioC (approximately the percolation threshold for CB), the 80:20 BioC nanocomposites had a resistance of 3.43 x 108 as compared to 2.99 x 108 for the CB, indicating that BioC could potentially perform comparably to CB as a conductive nanofiller if the processing challenges can be overcome for higher BioC loadings.
Arroyo, Jesse, and Cecily Ryan. "Incorporation of Carbon Nanofillers Tunes Mechanical and Electrical Percolation in PHBV:PLA Blends." Polymers 10, no. 12 (December 2018). DOI:10.3390/polym10121371.
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