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Pure Appl. Chem., 2006, Vol. 78, No. 10, pp. 1843-1855

Materials of cellulose derivatives and fiber-reinforced cellulose-polypropylene composites: Characterization and application

Peter Zugenmaier

Institute of Physical Chemistry, Clausthal University of Technology, Arnold-Sommerfeld-Strasse 4, D-38678 Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany

Cellulose is a biodegradable polymer produced sustainably in large quantities by nature. It has been used by mankind for centuries because of its favorable properties, but suffers disadvantages such as the high cost of production and limited processibility. For example, it cannot be melted and is only soluble in less common solvents. The latter limitation can be overcome through appropriate derivatization of cellulose, which increases the solubility range and may generate thermoplastic materials. This paper will review three new developments leading to enhanced utilization of cellulosics.
Firstly, an overview is given of the progress in the formulation of fiber-reinforced thermoplastic cellulose composites to facilitate extrusion processing. Cellulose-polypropylene composites show enhanced properties in comparison with neat polypropylene, and offer scope for replacing composites containing glass fibers, owing to resultant advantages in weight, recyclability, and ease of disposal. Progress is also reported in improving the predictability of essential physical quantities and melt flow in cellulose esters. Finally, an account is given of the successful development of microcrystalline cellulose (CFM) derivatives, synthesized in a heterogeneous manner, as chiral recognition agents in liquid chromatography. The structural features of these materials are decisive for their use. A model is proposed for the morphology of the cellulosic fibrils.