Authors:Mariano Pracella, Cristiano Pancrazi, Md. Minhaz-Ul Haque, and Aldo D'Alessio
Composites of polystyrene (PS) with cellulose microfibres and oat particles, obtained by melt mixing, were examined. The compatibilization of the composites was carried out by addition of maleic anhydride-functionalized copolymers (SEBS-g-MA, PS-co-MA) and poly(ethylene glycol) to improve the fibre–matrix interfacial interactions. The plain components and their composites were characterised by FT-IR, DSC, TGA, SEM microscopy and mechanical tests. The properties of the various systems were analysed as a function of both fibre and compatibilizer amount. The compatibilized PS composites showed enhanced fibre dispersion and interfacial adhesion as a consequence of chemical interactions between the anhydride groups on the polymer chains and the hydroxyl groups on the fibres, as demonstrated by FT-IR spectroscopy. DSC analysis pointed out a neat increase of Tg of composites on addition of SEBS-g-MA, as compared to PS-co-MA. The thermal stability of composites was also influenced by the type and amount of fibres, as well as by the structure and concentration of compatibilizer. The effect of the reactive copolymers on the composites properties was accounted for on the basis of the polymer–polymer miscibility and chemical interactions at the matrix/filler interface.