Stone-ground wood pulp-reinforced polypropylene composites: water uptake and thermal properties

Two of the drawbacks of using natural-based composites in industrial applications are thermal instability and water uptake capacity. In this work, mechanical wood pulp was used to reinforce polypropylene at a level of 20 to 50 wt. %. Composites were mixed by means of a Brabender internal mixer for both non-coupled and coupled formulations. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) were used to determine the thermal properties of the composites. The water uptake behavior was evaluated by immersion of the composites in water until an equilibrium state was reached. Results of water absorption tests revealed that the amount of water absorption was clearly dependent upon the fiber content. The coupled composites showed lower water absorption compared to the uncoupled composites. The incorporation of mechanical wood pulp into the polypropylene matrix produced a clear nucleating effect by increasing the crystallinity degree of the polymer and also increasing the temperature of polymer degradation. The maximum degradation temperature for stone ground wood pulp–reinforced composites was in the range of 330 to 345 ºC ​
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