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Valorization of sisal fibers: synthesis of cellulose esters and preparation of materials

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Bruno Vinícius Manzolli Rodrigues
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Carlos.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Instituto de Química de São Carlos (IQSC/BT)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Elisabete Frollini; Lucia Helena Innocentini Mei; Adhemar Colla Ruvolo Filho; Omar Abdel Moneim Abou El Seoud
Advisor: Elisabete Frollini

The present investigation aimed at the valorization of the lignocellulosic sisal fiber, mainly focusing on its main component, i.e. cellulose, through the synthesis of cellulose esters and preparation of different materials. This lignocellulosic source was chosen due to its availability in the country since Brazil is the largest producer and exporter worldwide and also because this lignocellulosic source has a high cellulose content and a short life cycle. The synthesis of cellulose esters with varied chain lengths (acetates, butanoatos and hexanoates) and degree of substitution (DS) was explored in homogeneous and heterogeneous media in order to identify the conditions that led to better yields. In the homogeneous medium, by using DMAc/LiCl as the solvent system and acid anhydrides as the esterifying agents, the synthesis of cellulose esters with varied chain lengths and DS (0.2-3.0) was possible by only adjusting the MolAnhydride/MolCellulose ratio. In the heterogeneous medium, different synthesis routes were explored. By using acid anhydride/metallic iodine (catalyst) as the system, only short-chain cellulose esters (acetates) could be obtained with high efficiency. In the search for new routes to obtain cellulose esters with longer chains, completely substituted esters (GS 3.0) were obtained by using acid chloride and pyridine (as the reaction medium and nucleophilic catalyst) in just 30 minutes. Afterwards, by using the same solvent system (DMAc/LiCl), cellulose esters prepared in a homogeneous medium were used as starting materials in the preparation of films and biocomposites [cellulose ester/cellulose (0-20 wt%)]. The results of dynamic-mechanical analysis (DMA) and tensile tests revealed that, in general, the cellulose loading led to biocomposites with superior properties than the films without cellulose. Thus, higher values of storage modulus and tensile strength were obtained, which consequently led to materials with higher Young Modulus and lower elongation at break. For example, biocomposites from cellulose butanoate (GS 1.8) with 20 wt% of cellulose showed a storage module value (675 MPa) almost 4 times higher than the film without cellulose (195 MPa). For the cellulose biocomposites from cellulose hexanoate (GS 1.8), the cellulose loading increased the tensile strength up to 1 unit (15 wt% cellulose) comparatively to the film without cellulose. By means of advanced techniques of surface characterization (XPS and ToF-SIMS), the distribution of the cellulose ester groups along the films/biocomposites surfaces were studied as well as the influence of the different cellulose esters chain lengths, DS and presence of cellulose on that distribution. XPS results revealed an increase in the contribution of the aliphatic carbon as the DS increased when the side chain remained constant (butanoates). Regarding the surface coverage by aliphatic chains of the ester groups, XPS results indicated a higher concentration of cellulose on the surface of the biocomposite prepared from cellulose acetate as its matrix. Conversely, for the cellulose esters with longer chains (butanoates and hexanoates), XPS results pointed that the cellulose was mostly present in the inner layers, which generated a higher surface coverage of these biocomposites\' surfaces by the aliphatic chains of the ester groups. According to the ToF- SIMS results, the esters groups were evenly distributed on the surface of the films and biocomposites. Thereafter, beads from sisal cellulose were successfully prepared after an exploration of various pre-treatment conditions on the cellulosic mass, where optimal conditions were found to lead to complete cellulose dissolution in NaOH/Urea aqueous system followed by coagulation in acid medium. Cellulose beads present a high potential of application in several areas, for example in controlled drug delivery and chromatography. At the final stage of this work, the lignocellulosic sisal and sisal cellulose fibers were used as starting materials in a study involving the electrospinning technique at room temperature, by using trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) as solvent. Through this technique, the lignocellulosic fiber dissolution and later reconstruction led to ultrathin fibers (120 to 510 nm). The electrospinning of sisal cellulose led to ultrathin fibers and nanofibers (<100 nm) in a wide interval of diameters, by only varying the solution flow rate. The results obtained in this investigation open a wide range of possible applications, in which the ultrathin and nanofibers prepared from the lignocellulosic biomass can be used, such as membranes, sandwich-type structure of films or as reinforcement in composite materials. Through the present work, different materials were prepared from the lignocellulosic sisal and sisal cellulose fibers, which contributed to expand the possibilities of application of these materials in diverse areas. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 10/00005-4 - Cellulose esters from homogeneous and heterogeneous media: optimization of parameters of synthesis and preparation of biocomposites based on cellulose esters and cellulose
Grantee:Bruno Vinícius Manzolli Rodrigues
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)