STRENGTH IMPROVEMENT OF HYDROXYPROPYL METHYLCELLULOSE/ STARCH FILMS USING CELLULOSE NANOCRYSTALS
ABSTRACT Interest in cellulose nanocrystals obtained from natural resources has grown mainly because of features that such materials provide when inserted into polymeric matrices. The present study aimed to evaluate the effect of cellulose nanocrystals addition on mechanical properties of biofilms made from hypromellose (or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose - HPMC) and cassava starch blends (CS). The cellulose nanocrystals were produced by acid hydrolysis and characterized by optical microscopy (OM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and thermogravimetry (TG). Films were made with pure CS, pure hypromellose and also with blends of CS and hypromellose by casting. Then cellulose nanocrystals were added to the blends in the concentrations of 1, 3 and 10% (m/m). Evaluations of the films included tensile performance and fracture surface by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). It was observed that the reinforcement with nanocrystals improved the mechanical properties of the films, and their fracture surface showed that cellulose nanocrystals promoted an improvement in the cohesion of the hypromellose and starch molecules in the blend, and created a more homogeneous surface.