Barrier Film of Etherified Hemicellulose from Single-Step Synthesis
Hemicellulose with good biodegradability and low oxygen permeability shows great potential in food packaging. However, its strong hydrophilicity leads to its poor moisture resistance, which hinders its wider application. In this paper, a near-hydrophobic hemicellulose was obtained by using single-step synthesis from poplar powder via etherification modification with epoxy chloropropane. This proposed approach has the advantage of avoiding the destruction of hemicellulose structure by secondary alkali-hydrolysis, which was what usually occurred in traditional etherification procedures. The feasibility of using epoxy chloropropane as an alkylation reagent to etherify hemicellulose was confirmed, and the reaction mechanism was elucidated. Contact angle test, thermogravimetric analysis, oxygen transmittance test, and infrared spectrum analysis showed that the barrier property and thermal stability of etherified hemicellulose films have been significantly improved. At an epoxy chloropropane/wood powder ratio (volume/weight) of 2/3 (mL/g), the epoxy hemicellulose films contained the most epoxy groups and displayed the best performance, i.e., tensile strength of 14.6 MPa, surface contact angle of 71.7&deg; and oxygen transmission coefficient of 1.9 (cm3&middot;&micro;m)/(m2&middot;d&middot;kPa), showing great promise as barrier film in food-packaging.