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Biodegradable polymer composites : synthesis, properties and application in water purification

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dc.contributor.advisor Prof. B.B. Mamba, Dr. A.K. Mishra, Dr. S.B. Mishra, Dr. J.M. Thwala en_US
dc.contributor.author Vilakati, Gcina Doctor
dc.date.accessioned 2012-05-02T07:29:01Z
dc.date.available 2012-05-02T07:29:01Z
dc.date.issued 2012-05-02
dc.date.submitted 2011
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/4672
dc.description M.Sc. en_US
dc.description.abstract The addition of lignocellulosic fibres to thermoplastic polymers is known to increase the toughness of the polymers but it compromises the tensile strength. On the other hand, inorganic fillers like TiO2 are known to improve the tensile strength of polymers. These plant fibres have been used as adsorbents of metal pollutants in water. Best results were obtained when such materials were ground to fine powder but due to low density, the fibres float and form aggregates in water. Being highly biodegradable in nature makes plant fibres unsuitable for water treatment over lengthy periods of time. They cannot be used as standalone materials. Mixing these adsorbents with polymers, which cannot only act as support for the adsorbents but also disperse the fibres within it thus preventing leaching, is a cause for concern. This study was aimed at fabricating plant fibre-polymer composites that will have improved mechanical and thermal properties. These composites were to be tested for their ability to be used as metal ion adsorbents. The composites were fabricated using a melt-mix compounding method. Two thermoplastic polymers, EVA and PCL were each mixed with either lignin or SCB and TiO2 in different ratios. A rheomex mixer coupled with a single screw extruder which was attached to a sheet die was used to synthesise the composites. TGA and DSC were used for thermal propagation while the mechanical properties were investigated using an instron. Metal ion adsorption measurements were analysed using an atomic absorption spectrometer (AAS). These adsorbents were used to remove Cr(VI), Cr(III) and Pb(II), varying different environmental parameters like pH, concentration, time and adsorbent at constant temperature. The reinforcing effect of both lignin and SCB resulted to poor thermal and mechanical properties. This was shown by a decrease in onset degradation temperature and the tensile and toughness of the composites compared to the neat polymers. The incorporation of TiO2 on SCB-EVA composites, however, improved the mechanical strength and resulted in a thermally stable composite compared to counterpart composites without TiO2. This observation was surpassed at high filler loading as the addition of TiO2 resulted in a decrease of the properties. For the tensile strength, neat EVA recorded 11.35 MPa while 2% TiO2-EVA registered 12.49 MPa for example. For the same composite, the onset degradation temperature for EVA was 353 oC but shifted to 368 oC after the addition of TiO2. At higher filler loading, no effect was observed when adding TiO2. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Polymer biodegradation en_US
dc.subject Water purification en_US
dc.subject Biodegradation
dc.subject Composite materials
dc.subject Polymer deterioration
dc.subject Water purification
dc.subject Heavy metals - Absorption and adsorption
dc.title Biodegradable polymer composites : synthesis, properties and application in water purification en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US


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