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Improved mechanical and antibacterial properties of polyvinyl alcohol composite films using quaternized cellulose nanocrystals as nanofillers

Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) are natural, renewable, and biocompatible materials that have been widely used as new sustainable reinforcing nanofillers in polymer composites. We present polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)/CNC composites with improved mechanical and antibacterial properties using CNC-based nanofillers. The surface esterified CNC (ECNC) was prepared by 6-bromohexanoyl chloride via surface esterification. Subsequently, the alkyl bromide group of the ECNC was transferred to quaternary ammonium groups for preparing quaternized CNC (ECNC-Qn) by introducing tertiary amino groups with different carbon chain lengths (C8–C16). Then, ECNC-Qn were blended with a PVA matrix to prepare PVA/ECNC-Qn nanocomposite films via a solvent casting procedure. Diverse features, including light transmission, mechanical properties, and antibacterial activity against Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) and Gram-negative (Escherichia coli) bacteria were investigated. Compared with pure PVA films, the PVA/ECNC-Qn nanocomposite films had higher tensile strength and higher antibacterial activity. Specifically, the maximum tensile strength and elongation at break of PVA/ECNC-Qn nanocomposite films were 45.4 MPa and 318.4%, respectively, which were 37.2% and 94.3% higher than those of pure PVA film, respectively. Moreover, the ECNC-Q8 exhibited the highest antibacterial efficiency, leading to the best antibacterial activity for PVA/ECNC-Q8 nanocomposite films among all films. This study demonstrates an efficient method for preparing a functional, environment-friendly PVA composite film. The prepared PVA/ECNC-Qn nanocomposite films exhibited considerable application potential in the packaging field, owing to their good mechanical and antibacterial barrier properties.

Publication date: 08/02/2023

Author: Lina Meng, Jiangwei Li, Xinyan Fan, Yonggui Wang, Zefang Xiao, Haigang Wang, Daxin Liang, Yanjun Xie

Composites Science and Technology


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.