Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, 200 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3E5, Canada; Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, 33 Willcocks Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B3, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]
Lignin containing cellulose nanofibrils (LCNF) were obtained by mechanically fibrillating unbleached tree bark after alkaline extraction and used as a reinforcement in thermoplastic starch (TPS) to develop novel biodegradable composite films. With the addition of 15 wt % LCNF, the tensile strength and modulus of the composites increased by 319 % and 800 % compared to neat TPS films, respectively. The crystalline property of cellulose and the high interaction between TPS and LCNF improved the mechanical property of the composite films. The composite film Tonset and Tmax were 263.1 °C and 316.5 °C, respectively, compared to 250.5 °C and 297.3 °C for neat TPS. The composite films also showed higher water barrier property. Experimental results showed that LCNF features a high lignin content. Lignin, a natural polymer, contains hydrophobic and aromatic groups and, thus, can increase the water barrier property and thermal stability of TPS/LCNF composite films.