Thermoplastic Starch/Wood Composites: Effect of Processing Technology, Interfacial Interactions and Particle Characteristics
hermoplastic starch (TPS)/wood composites in a wide composition range were prepared in an internal mixer followed by compression molding. Three types of lignocellulose fibers were used to study the effect of particle and surface characteristics on the processability as well as the mechanical and water absorption properties of the composites. The mechanical properties of these composites were also compared with those of the composites processed by injection molding in an earlier study, and the effect of processing technology on the mechanical properties was also investigated. The processing of TPS/lignocellulose composites in the internal mixer demanded more energy with increasing amount and aspect ratio of the fibers as a result of a network formation. Only a small variation among the dispersion component of the surface tension of the wood samples was found, and almost no difference in the stiffness and strength of the composites prepared in the internal mixer was observed. The results proved that the influence of the processing method on the stiffness and strength of the composites depends strongly on the aspect ratio of the wood particles. Increasing anisotropy results in increasing difference in the mechanical properties of the composites prepared by different methods. The equilibrium water uptake of the fibers and the composites depended especially on the size and, consequently, on the specific surface area of the wood fibers.