Preparation of Composites from Natural Rubber and Oil Palm Empty Fruit Bunch Cellulose: Effect of Cellulose Morphology on Properties

José Antonio Fiorote, Alair Pereira Freire, Dasciana de Sousa Rodrigues, Maria Alice Martins, Larissa Andreani, Leonardo Fonseca Valadares

Abstract


Rubber tree and oil palm are industrial crops cultivated in the same climate and environment. These plants are used to prepare nanocomposites of natural rubber and cellulose from empty fruit bunches, an abundant residue in the palm oil industry. For this study, the cellulose particles were extracted from the bunches and subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis or microfibrillation to produce nanostructured particles. The nanoparticles were blended with natural rubber latex in an aqueous medium, and the mixture was dried. The properties of the nanocomposites were compared to those of pure natural rubber and unprocessed cellulose composites. The mechanical properties of the natural rubber can be modified by the cellulose content and morphology. As a consequence, it is possible to modulate the material properties by changing only the filler morphology. The use of microfibrillated cellulose had stronger reinforcement effects. The thermal properties of natural rubber were not affected by the addition of cellulose.

Keywords


Composite mechanical properties; Natural rubber; Cellulose fibres nanostructure; Transmission electron microscopy; Oil palm empty fruit bunches

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