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The role of nanocrystalline cellulose on the microstructure of foamed castor-oil polyurethane nanocomposites

Cordero, Andrés Ignacio, Amalvy, Javier Ignacio, Fortunati, Elena, Kenny, José María, Chiacchiarelli, Leonel Matías
Carbohydrate polymers 2015 v.134 pp. 110-118
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, acid hydrolysis, castor oil, cellulose, chemical structure, foams, mechanical properties, microstructure, nanocomposites, nanocrystals, polyols, polyurethanes, scanning electron microscopy, sulfuric acid, surfactants, urea, urethane
Nanocrystalline cellulose (CNC), obtained by sulphuric acid hydrolysis, was used to synthesize polyurethane foams (PUFs) based on a functionalized castor oil polyol and a Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). Formulations with varying isocyanate index (FI) and NCO number were prepared. At 0.5wt.%, SEM’s of the fractured surface underlined that the CNC acted both as a nucleation agent and as a particulate surfactant with cell geometries and apparent density changing selectively. The chemical structure of the PUF (FTIR) changed after the incorporation of CNC by a relative change of the amount of urea, urethane and isocyanurate groups. A low NCO number and isocyanate index contributed to the migration of the CNC to the Hard Segment (HS), acting as reinforcement and improving substantially the compressive mechanical properties (Ec and σc improvements of 63 and 50%, respectively). For a high NCO number or isocyanate index, the CNC migrated to the Soft Segment (SS), without causing a reinforcement effect. The migration of the CNC was also detected with DSC, TGA and DMA, furtherly supporting the hypothesis that a low NCO number and index contributed both to the formation of a microstructure with a higher content of urethane groups.