Processing window for extrusion foaming of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose
Journal article, 2016
Foamed materials are gaining an increased interest due to their good mechanical properties in relation to their low densities and an increased industrial demand can be expected. A few less attractive issues can however be associated with commodity foamed products. For instance the raw-material often originates from non-renewable, fossil-based, sources. Furthermore, degradation in nature is slow, therefor the disposed product is burned or end up in landfills. One possibility to reduce the impact on nature could be to produce foams from natural polymers such as starch or cellulose. In this study the possibility to produce foams from hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) with water as blowing agent, by continuous extrusion, was investigated. A pre-study using a capillary viscometer, batch-extruder, was conducted to evaluate the foamability of HPMC. Due to promising results further experiments were conducted with a single-screw extruder. The goal was to find an adequate processing window for foaming. It was concluded that HPMC could successfully be foamed by continuous extrusion, although a careful tailoring of the processing parameters was required. Crucial parameters were here the temperature, pressure and residence time distribution in the extruder. Regions of the extruded foams were examined using optical and scanning electron microscopy and HPMC foams with a density in the range of that of fossil-based polymeric foams could be produced.
Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC)