Barrier screw compounding and mechanical properties of EAA copolymer and cellulose fiber composite
Journal article, 2013
The difficulty of feeding cellulose fibers and thermoplastics into the extruder or injection molding machine is addressed, this being a serious problem in the production of cellulose fiber composites for industrial applications. Agglomerates consisting in cellulose fibers and ethylene-acrylic acid copolymer (EAA) with different cellulose contents and different fiber lengths were processed with two different screws in order to better understand how the dispersion of the fibers can be improved by melt extrusion. A conventional screw with a compression ratio of 4 : 1 and a screw with barrier flights were used at different screw rotation speeds. The fiber length and fiber content were measured and microscopic analyses were performed in order to estimate the number and size of the cellulose fiber aggregates in the final composites. It was concluded that the barrier screw was more effective than the conventional screw in breaking up the fiber aggregates and dispersing the fibers. More but smaller cellulose aggregates were observed when the barrier screw was used, and the reduction of length was significantly greater for long than for short fibers. In contrast to that was expected, the samples containing the shorter fibers had better mechanical properties, probably due to a better dispersion of the fibers.