Microwave-assisted chemical modification of lignin was achieved through esterification using maleic anhydride. Modified lignin (ML) was blended in different proportions up to 25 mass% with polypropylene (PP) using Brabender electronic Plasticorder at 190 °C. The structural and thermal properties of blends were investigated by thermogravometric analysis (TG), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), wide-angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). TG analysis showed increased thermal stability of blends due to antioxidant property of ML, which opposed oxidative degradation of PP. DSC analysis indicted slight depression in a glass transition temperature and melting temperature of blends due to partial miscible blend behavior between PP and ML. All blends showed higher crystallization temperatures and continuously reducing percentage crystallinity with increasing ML proportion in the blends. WAXD analysis indicated that PP crystallized in β polymeric form in addition to α-form in the presence of ML. However, proportion of β-form did not show linear relation with increase in ML proportion, thus ML acts as β nucleating agent in the PP matrix. SEM analysis showed good dispersion/miscibility in PP matrix indicating modification in lignin is useful.
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