Polyhydroxybutyrate: a review of experimental and simulation studies on the effect of fillers on crystallinity and mechanical properties

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Abstract

Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is a sustainable polymer that is a promising candidate for replacing petroleum-based plastics in food packaging. Fillers are used to improve the mechanical properties of PHB composites, simultaneously changing the crystallinity of the polymer matrix. However, it is not well understood how fillers affect crystallisation and microstructure, and thus the resulting mechanical properties of the composite. This review summarises simulation work on polymer nucleation and crystallisation and how nucleation is influenced by different types of polymer/filler interfaces. Experimental studies of PHB composites with a wide variety of fillers are reviewed to find trends between the filler type, crystallinity, and mechanical properties. It is clear that fillers act as nucleants that increase the number of spherulites while reducing spherulite size. This behaviour is apparent for almost all fillers regardless of filler chemistry or topology. However, the data obtained from literature does not seem to produce strong conclusions about the effect of degree of crystallinity on the tensile properties of PHB-filler composites, although there are some weak trends that indicate the importance of microstructure. In order to enable prediction and control of PHB composite properties, it is clear that further systematic studies are required to elucidate the effect of specific filler types and the connection between crystallinity, microstructure, and the mechanical properties.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalPolymer International
Early online date26 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)
  • sustainable
  • compostable polymer
  • food packaging
  • crystallisation

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