Langmuir, Vol.37, No.2, 793-801, 2021
Effect of TDI-Assisted Hydrophobic Surface Modification of Microcrystalline Cellulose on the Tensile Fracture of MCC/PLA Composite, and Estimation of the Degree of Substitution by Linear Regression
Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) was modified using toluene-2,4-diisocyanate (TDI) in tetrahydrofuran (THF). The reaction was set up for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 24 h at 75 degrees C. The study was aimed at hydrophobic modification of microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) to improve its dispersion in PLA matrix. Data from the elemental analysis were used to develop a statistical model to predict the degree of substitution (DS) of the OH on the surface of the MCC using both the water contact angle (WCA) and the time of carbamation as the independent variables. Composite was fabricated at 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5% fiber loading. Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy was used to characterize the MCC and to confirm the successful graft of TDI to the MCC surface. The morphology and elemental analysis of the modified samples were examined with SEM-EDX. The samples' wettability was analyzed with a contact angle meter to measure the water contact angle (WCA). The tensile properties of composites were analyzed on a universal testing machine. The result showed that, after 1 h of carbamation, the minimum DS recorded was 0.11, and the maximum DS after 24 h was 0.16. The SEM revealed that the modified MCC had homogeneous dispersion in the polymer matrix. At 3% fiber loading, the tensile strength (TS) and elongation were at a maximum and had improvements of 80.67% and 79.44% as compared to neat PLA. The fractured tensile surface from SEM analysis showed that surface modification enhanced fiber-matrix adhesion and significantly improved the composite's strength and toughness. The proposed model that was developed in this study had a coefficient of determination (R-2) of 93% to show that the model has a near-perfect goodness of fit and can well be an effective approach to predict the DS of OH from WCA and the time of reaction at similar or the same reaction conditions.