Effect of Cellulose Nanofiber (CNF) Surface Treatment on Cellular Structures and Mechanical Properties of Polypropylene/CNF Nanocomposite Foams via Core-Back Foam Injection Molding.

Affiliation

Department of Chemical Engineering, Kyoto University, Kyoto 615-8510, Japan. [Email]

Abstract

Herein, lightweight nanocomposite foams with expansion ratios ranging from 2⁻10-fold were fabricated using an isotactic polypropylene (iPP) matrix and cellulose nanofiber (CNF) as the reinforcing agent via core-back foam injection molding (FIM). Both the native and modified CNFs, including the different degrees of substitution (DS) of 0.2 and 0.4, were melt-prepared and used for producing the polypropylene (PP)/CNF composites. Foaming results revealed that the addition of CNF greatly improved the foamability of PP, reaching 2⁻3 orders of magnitude increases in cell density, in comparison to those of the neat iPP foams. Moreover, tensile test results showed that the incorporation of CNF increased the tensile modulus and yield stress of both solid and 2-fold foamed PP, and a greater reinforcing effect was achieved in composites containing modified CNF. In the compression test, PP/CNF composite foams prepared with a DS of 0.4 exhibited dramatic improvements in mechanical performance for 10-fold foams, in comparison to iPP, with increases in the elastic modulus and collapse stress of PP foams of 486% and 468%, respectively. These results demonstrate that CNF is extraordinarily helpful in enhancing the foamability of PP and reinforcing PP foams, which has importance for the development of lightweight polymer composite foams containing a natural nanofiber.

Keywords

cellulose nanofiber,foam injection molding,mechanical properties,polypropylene,