A new concept of using acrylated epoxidized soybean oil (AESO) in the production of 3D cellulose biocomposites was evaluated. Cellulose-AESO composites were prepared by dissolving pulp in N,N-dimethylacetamide/lithium chloride and adding AESO and an initiator to the solutions followed by thermal curing and compression moulding at room temperature. The resulting biocomposites were characterized by FE-SEM, FT-IR, XRD, GC, TGA and nano- and microindentation. SEM images indicated the presence of spherical morphology and FT-IR together with TGA results showed no hydrogen or covalent bonding between the two components. The existence of hydrophobic interactions between AESO molecules and cellulose hydrophobic domains was proposed. AESO aggregates captured and covered by cellulose chains increase the flexibility of the composites acting as specific plasticizer and after polymerization introduce strength to the material. It was found that the optimal amount of AESO for achieving both desired hardness and good mouldability should be below 20 %.
- Hydrophobic interactions