Study of Nano-Mechanical Performance of Pretreated Natural Fiber in LDPE Composite for Packaging Applications
In this work, the effects of chemical pretreatment and different fiber loadings on mechanical properties of the composites at the sub-micron scale were studied through nanoindentation. The composites were prepared by incorporating choline chloride (ChCl) pretreated rice husk waste (RHW) in low-density polyethylene (LDPE) using melt processing, followed by a thermal press technique. Nanoindentation experiments with quasi continuous stiffness mode (QCSM) were performed on the surface of produced composites with varying content of pretreated RHW (i.e., 10, 15, and 20 wt.%). Elastic modulus, hardness, and creep properties of fabricated composites were measured as a function of contact depth. The results confirmed the appreciable changes in hardness, elastic modulus, and creep rate of the composites. Compliance curves indicated that the composite having 20 wt.% of pretreated RHW loading was harder compared to that of the pure LDPE and other composite samples. The values of elastic modulus and hardness of the composite containing 20 wt.% pretreated RHW were increased by 4.1% and 24% as compared to that of the pure LDPE, respectively. The creep rate of 42.65 nm/s and change in depth of 650.42 nm were also noted for the composite with RHW loading of 20 wt.%, which showed the substantial effect of holding time at an applied peak load of 100 mN. We believe that the developed composite could be a promising biodegradable packaging material due to its good tribo-mechanical performance.