Valorisation of agricultural residue bio-mass date palm fibre in dry-blended polycaprolactone (PCL) bio-composites for sustainable packaging applications

Abu Saifullah*, Nirmal George Chacko, Hom Dhakal, Sakib Hossain Khan, Forkan Sarker, Zhong Yi Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: This study experimentally developed and characterised dry-blended Polycaprolactone (PCL)/date palm fibre biodegradable composites for sustainable packaging applications. Date palm fibres are collected from date palm trees as by-products or waste materials. They will be valorised in bio-composite application to promote fibre-based sustainable packaging items over their non-biodegradable synthetic polymer based conventional packaging products. In the dry-blending process, fibre and polymer are mixed with a shear mixer, while, in a melt-blending process, an extruder is used to extrude fibre/polymer blends after applying heating and high shear pressure to melt and mix polymer with fibres. Dry-blending process offers many comparative advantages, such as less equipment, steps, cost, process degradation, energy consumption and hence, lower harmful environmental emissions; while, a proper fibre/polymer mixing is a challenge and it needs to be achieved properly in this process. Therefore, it is important to understand the effects of dry-blending process on manufacturing of PCL/date palm fibre bio-composites for packaging applications, before promoting the dry-blending as a suitable alternative to the melt-blending process.

Methods: Short chopped fibres were grinded as powders and dry-blended at a ratio of (0 − 10%) (w/w) with PCL polymer using hand and a shear mixer for 30 min, following a compression moulding process to produce bio-composite samples. Tensile, water contact angle, SEM, TGA, DSC and DMA tests and analysis were conducted. The dry-blended PCL/date palm fibre composites’ properties were compared with reported melt-blended samples’ results found in literature.

Results: Dry-blended samples showed an increase in tensile modulus values (up-to 20%) with fibre inclusion and these values were found close to the melt-blended samples in the literature. Tensile strength and strain values were reduced which could be related to the poor fibre/polymer interface. Fibre addition affected the thermal, thermo-mechanical and crystallisation processes in PCL polymer matrix.

Conclusion: Dry-blending is capable of producing bio-composites with a very comparable properties to melt-blended counterparts, although a more details study is needed to conduct in future. The results of this study, could be used carefully to design dry-blended PCL/date palm fibre bio-composites for possible packaging applications. The irregular fibre distribution in dry-blended samples could be improved in different ways which should be investigated in future.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste and Biomass Valorization
Early online date13 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 13 May 2024

Keywords

  • Date palm fibre
  • Valorisation
  • Dry-blending
  • Melt-blending
  • Sustainable packaging
  • Polycaprolactone (PCL)

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