Manon Le Gars presented the results of her research work entitled Surface modifications of cellulose nanocrystals for biobased food packaging applications.
The purpose of this project is to develop new surface chemical modifications of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), in order to enhance their compatibility with biobased poly(lactic acid) (PLA) polymer, and to combine their respective outstanding intrinsic properties.
Biobased PLA-based multi-phase materials, including the designed nanostructures, are produced. Furthermore, the final materials are expected to be used in food packaging sector, and the improvement of the barrier properties of the PLA, especially towards oxygen and water vapour, is a key point in the characterization of the materials. In this project, different routes are proposed for the grafting of various compounds – polymers or single molecules – on the surface of the CNCs. Their grafting efficiency has been confirmed and carefully characterized. The modified CNCs are then introduced in PLA-based materials via two different strategies. Indeed, they are either used as nanofillers in a PLA matrix with inclusion rates comprised between 2 and 10 wt%, or as an inner layer of PLA-based multi-layered materials.
In both cases, final PLA-based materials including various designed cellulosic nanomaterials exhibit enhanced and highly encouraging properties in terms of homogeneity, transparency, and barrier towards oxygen and water vapour, in accordance with required properties for food packaging materials.
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