You are welcome to attend Sungo Park's final PhD defense, in which he will discuss his research into developing a technology to characterize and process environmentally friendly materials using starch as co-polymer and nano-filler. The research aimed to extend the range of properties of starch materials while maintaining environmental benefits and competitive physical properties for applications such as packaging and agriculture.
Thermoplastic materials using bio-derived renewable resources are studied intensively and widely used in applications including packaging, agriculture and other consumer goods. Starch-based plastics exhibit good balance between environmental benefits, mechanical properties, processability and low cost.
Recently, there have been numerous efforts to amplify the positive effects on the environment while maintaining competitive physical properties in order to meet the needs of the market.
Canadian companies have developed new starch-based products to amplify the positive environmental impacts. Polymer Specialties International developed a new thermoplastic starch copolymer resin with competitive characteristics.
However, there is very little information on the mechanisms of development and chemical compositions. Another Canadian company, Ecosynthetix, is producing starch nano particle materials for applications such as paper coating. Recent studies conducted from our research group showed promising results by applying these materials as filler in polyethylene composites.
These research problems led to the opportunities to investigate and develop new applications.
The goal of this research was to develop a technology to characterize and process environmentally friendly materials using starch as co-polymer and as nano-filler. The research aimed to extend the range of properties of starch materials while maintaining environmental benefits and competitive physical properties for applications such as packaging and agriculture.
The first part of research objective was characterizing the new thermoplastic starch copolymer resin. In-depth characterization of its molecular structure and measurement of its thermal and mechanical properties were conducted. The material was also investigated in the presence of nanocellulose as reinforcement. Furthermore, the esterification process using maleic anhydride was done through three different systems: a reactive microwave reactor, a vacuum rotary evaporator, and a twin-screw extruder. A series of study was conducted and the materials were compared via chemical compositions analysis.
Mechanisms of maleation was confirmed and this is an important step for manufacturing copolymer resin.
The objectives of the second section was to investigate the application of starch as nano-filler. The focus was on dispersion of starch nano-particles onto green polyethylene matrix. Achieving uniform distribution and desired filler size through tuning processing conditions and additives were the keys.
Detailed characterizations on the composite materials were conducted. By designing and applying a systematical approach, uniform nano-size dispersion of the filler was achieved within the matrix, and this was confirmed by morphological analysis.
Supervisor: Professor Leonardo Simon, Chemical Engineering
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