Processing and Characterization of Solid and Microcellular PHBV/Coir Fiber Composites 2010-01-0422
Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV)/coir fiber composites were prepared via both conventional and microcellular injection-molding processes. The surface of the hydrophilic coir fiber was modified by alkali and silane-treatment to improve its adhesion with PHBV. The morphology, thermal, and mechanical properties were investigated. The addition of coir fiber (treated and untreated) reduced cell size and increased cell density. Further decrease in cell size and increase in cell density were observed for treated fibers compared with PHBV/untreated fiber composites. Mechanical properties such as specific toughness and strain-at-break improved for both solid and microcellular specimens with the addition of coir fibers (both treated and untreated); however, the specific modulus remained essentially the same statistically while the specific strength decreased slightly. The silane-treated coir fiber composites showed the greatest improvement in specific toughness and strain-at-break among the treated fiber composites. In addition, adding coir fibers (treated and untreated) also increased the degree of crystallinity of the PHBV composites. PHBV with treated coir fibers showed a higher degree of crystallinity compared with untreated coir fibers.