A methodology for evaluating multiple mechanical properties of prototype microfibrillated cellulose/poly(lactic acid) film composites Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/6w924f67z

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  • The context of this thesis is a research project focused on the investigation of a renewable biopolymer-poly(lactic acid) (PLA) as a potential replacement of petroleum-based polymers in advanced nanocomposites reinforced with Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC). MFC is extracted from wood, which is a renewable, sustainable, carbon neutral and recyclable material. This advanced MFC-PLA bio- based composite material is expected to allow for the substitution of petroleum-based plastics in various markets and applications. The specific objectives of the thesis are: 1) to describe the morphological characterization of MFC used for prototype MFC-PLA composites, and 2) to determine the mechanical properties of the prototype MFC-PLA nanocomposites formulation generated in form of thin transparent films. In order to meet this objective it was necessary to: 2.1) develop a methodology for optical strain measurement in transparent thin films; and 2.2) develop an effective methodology for obtaining multiple mechanical properties from small number of specimens of prototype materials subjected to tensile tests. Two types of MFC, one obtained by courtesy of University of Maine and the other purchased from Innventia AB company, were investigated under a field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). The micrographs obtained from FESEM showed that both types of MFC were of complex hierarchical structures, which did not allow qualitative characterization of the morphological features in terms of particulate composites nor cellular solids. Since prototype formulations of MFC-PLA composites were generated in small amounts (typically one Petri dish) in a form of thin transparent films, there was a need for quick and efficient assessment of their key mechanical properties that would provide feedback and guide further prototyping work. An optical measurement method based on digital image correlation (DIC) principle was developed to measure the deformation and strains of the tensile film samples. In our study, the accuracy and precision of the measurement of deformation were ±1.5 µm and 0.4 µm respectively. The corresponding accuracy and precision in terms of strains were ±30 µstrain and 75 µstrain respectively. This method can be successfully used to determine the critical mechanical properties, such as elastic modulus, toughness and Poisson's ratio, of transparent thin films by a single tensile test, all of which require precise strain measurement. In addition, this optical measurement method makes it possible to significantly simplify the testing for measuring essential work of fracture (EWF), an important material property of thin transparent films. In traditional method, measurement of EWF requires large amount of notched specimens. However, our study showed that only a small amount of notched specimens were needed to measure the EWF of a material. This method could not be successfully used to determine EWF from un-notched tensile specimens.
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