Surface of cellulosic materials modified with functionalized polyethylene coupling agents

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The interfacial adhesion between a wood fiber and a plastic matrix strongly influences the performance of wood-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites. Fiber surface modification with coupling agents is generally needed to induce bond formation between the fiber and polymer matrix. This study investigated the chemical reactions between cellulosic materials and functionalized polyethylene coupling agents. Both wood flour and cotton cellulose powder were treated with acrylic acid-functionalized polyethylene and maleic anhydride-functionalized polyethylene (maleated polyethylene) for surface modifications, and chemical changes resulting from these treatments were followed by a study of the Fourier transform infrared and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy spectra. Variations in the band intensities, oxygen-to-carbon ratios, and concentrations of unoxidized carbon atoms were related to changes that occurred on the surfaces of modified cellulosic materials. The experimental results indicated that chemical bonds between the hydroxyl groups of the cellulosic materials and the functional groups of the coupling agents occurred through esterification reactions.

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Journal of Applied Polymer Science