Polymer engineering and science vol:47 issue:4 pages:467-476
Low density polyethylene (LDPE) composites based on cellulose fibres have been processed by high shear extrusion with water injection to help dispersion of fibres and release nanofibres from cellulose. Influence of extrusion parameters as shear, residence time, storage conditions of the matrix, and effect of water injection on the morphological properties of the composites have been studied using microscopy. Optimization of the extrusion parameters is necessary to reach a dispersion of the fibres. Increasing shearing forces and residence time allows limiting the presence of large aggregates of cellulose fibres. Use of powdered LDPE, even for short residence time and low shear, is efficient to produce well-dispersed composites. Injection of water during the extrusion also improves the quality of the dispersion. However, no nanofibres are observed. The main effect is a spectacular decrease of the discoloration (yellowing) due to cellulose degradation. Mechanical properties of the composites have been investigated. Young modulus increases with cellulose content and reinforcing effect is more important above 10% by weight. For well-dispersed composites, the extrusion parameters have no significant influence on the stiffness of the composites. However, due to the weakness of the interface, the ductility of composites is reduced compared with LDPE.