Erica Gea Rodi

Influence of the chemical modification of the interface on the dispersion of lignocellulosic reinforcements in Green Wood Plastic Composites GWPC : numerical model contribution on the optimization of the mechanical properties

Advisors: Valérie Langlois, Estelle Renard, Thibault Lemaire, Vittorio Sansalone

This study focuses on the Green Wood Plastic Composites (GWPC), manufactured using biodegradable aliphatic polyesters as matrixes, like poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL), poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBHV) and poly(lactic acid) (PLA) reinforced with Miscanthus giganteus fibers. In order to improve the adhesion between the thermoplastic matrixes and the vegetal fibers, a chemical treatment of these last was developed. The grafting of polyesters chains of the same nature as the matrix, was carried out on the surface of vegetal fibers, using the reactivity of unsaturated bonds present in the lignin structure through the use of the thiol-ene reaction. As these double bonds are few a polyfunctional agent, a polythiol, was used. This type of grafting allowed to obtain a real increase in the mechanical properties of biocomposites realized with PCL and PHBHV. Various manufacturing techniques such as extrusion, mixing, injection, compression molding and reactive extrusion were used to study their influence on the mechanical behavior of biocomposites. The effect of fibers content, sizes and arrangement in the matrix were also studied. Different analytical and numerical models were implemented to determine the effective mechanical behavior of the biocomposites. This study suggests that a Mori-Tanaka model with fibers as cylindrical inclusions constitutes a good approximation of the real mechanical behavior of the biocomposites. The use of finite element (FE) models revealed that the transmission of the applied stress is more efficient in the case of composites with short fibers and that 3D FE models are more realistic than their corresponding 2D. Mathematical models here implemented concerning the reactive extrusion process, this last being responsible not only of the polymer grafting but also of the polymer cross-linking, seem to be able to estimate the fraction of cross-linked matrix. PLA-based composites exhibit a Young Modulus comparable to their equivalent realized with poly(propylene), showing also a good resistance to mild aging conditions. The interdisciplinarity of this work based on the systematic association of numerical models to the practical realization of the biocomposites constitutes a complete approach to determine the properties of these materials.

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