Value-Added Use of Invasive Plant-Derived Fibers as PHBV Fillers for Biocomposite Development
Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) is a promising biobased, biodegradable thermoplastic with limited industrial applications due to its brittleness and high cost. To improve these properties, lignocellulosic fibers from two invasive plants (Phalaris arundinacea and Lonicera japonica) were used as PHBV reinforcing agents. Alkali treatment of the fibers improved the PHBV–fiber interfacial bond by up to 300%. The morphological, mechanical, and thermal properties of the treated fibers were characterized, as well as their size, loading, and type, to understand their impact on performance of the biocomposites. The new biocomposites had improved thermal stability, restricted crystallization, reduced rigidity, and reduced cost compared with PHBV. Additionally, these novel biocomposites performed similarly to conventional plastics such as polypropylene, suggesting their potential as bio-alternatives for industrial applications such as semirigid packaging and lightweight auto body panels.