Effects of Preparation Method on the Physicochemical Properties of Cationic Nanocellulose and Starch Nanocomposites
Nanocellulose (NC) has attracted attention in recent years for the advantages offered by its unique characteristics. In this study, the effects of the preparation method on the properties of starch films were investigated by preparing NC from cationic-modified microcrystalline cellulose (MD-MCC) using three methods: Acid hydrolysis (AH), high-pressure homogenization (HH), and high-intensity ultrasonication (US). When MD-MCC was used as the starting material, the yield of NC dramatically increased compared to the NC yield obtained from unmodified MCC and the increased zeta potential improved its suspension stability in water. The NC prepared by the different methods had a range of particle sizes and exhibited needle-like structures with high aspect ratios. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra indicated that trimethyl quaternary ammonium salt groups were introduced to the cellulose backbone during etherification. AH-NC had a much lower maximum decomposition temperature (Tmax) than HH-NC or US-NC. The starch/HH-NC film exhibited the best water vapor barrier properties because the HH-NC particles were well-dispersed in the starch matrix, as demonstrated by the surface morphology of the film. Our results suggest that cationic NC is a promising reinforcing agent for the development of starch-based biodegradable food-packaging materials.