Green synthesis of novel biocomposites from treated cellulosic fibers and recycled bio-plastic polylactic acid


Technological advances and environmental awareness are increasingly favoring the use of natural fibers as opposed to synthetic fibers, as reinforcement for composite materials. This can be attributed to their good mechanical and physical properties, high stiffness, renewability, abundancy, biodegradability and excellent tensile strength. Natural fibers in their native form have several shortcomings. For this reason, they require pretreatment so as to improve their biocompatibility. Several treatment techniques are available including chemical treatments, physical treatments, enzymatic treatments or a combination of these methods such as physicochemical processing. Additionally, enzymatic treatments are suitable due to their environmentally ‘green’ nature and high efficiency. Polylactic acid has recently emerged as an outstanding biopolymer, however, it has some notable shortcomings which can be improved by incorporating cellulosic fibers from pulp and paper solid sludge. Unfortunately, such types of treatment have not been thoroughly investigated.

To this note, a team of researchers at Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique  (INRS): Mohamed Amine Laadila , Krishnamoorthy Hegde, Dr. Tarek Rouissi and led by professor Satinder Kaur Brar investigated the mechanical properties of biocomposites developed from recycled polylactic acid from packaging industry and treated cellulosic fibers from pulp and paper solid waste. They intended to employ microwave and enzymatic treatments for extraction and surface modification of hydrophilic cellulosic fibers. The research involves also a contribution from Dr. Maria da Conceição Paiva at the University of Minho, Professor Ridha Ben Cheikh at Tunis El Manar University, Professor Luca Sorelli at the University of Laval and Kofi Abokitse president and general manager of Ozymes Inc.. Their work is currently published in, Journal of Cleaner Production.

The research method employed commenced by extracting and modifying the surface of hydrophilic cellulosic fibers using enzymatic and microwave treatments. To be more specific, the researchers performed the enzymatic treatments for activation of hydroxyl groups and improvement of adhesion between matrix and fibers including controlling the length of cellulosic fibers with size reduction of around 50% as compared to microwave treatment. The research team then undertook scanning electron microscopy measurements, X-ray diffraction, and Fourier transforms infrared spectroscopy measurements.

The authors observed that the microwave treatment produced cellulosic fibers of 293 and 341 micrometers, for primary and mixed biosolids, respectively. They also noted that the mechanical properties of biocomposites with 2% (w/w) of treated cellulosic fibers was enhanced in comparison to the recycled polylactic acid. Scanning electron microscopy revealed size reduction of cellulosic fibers. X-ray diffraction and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy confirmed strong mechanical properties of novel biocomposites.

The study has successfully presented the testing of the effects of treated cellulosic fibers on mechanical properties of recycled polylactic acid using the microwave and enzymatic treatment. It has been seen that the microwave irradiation method is efficient for the cellulose extraction and size reduction of cellulosic fibers from pulp and paper solid waste. To this end, this study has shown that the proposed combined physical and enzymatic treatment for pulp and paper solid waste could be one of the most reliable methods for the reinforcement of the biocomposites, and this could open other valorization options for these residuals.

Green synthesis of novel biocomposites from treated cellulosic fibers and recycled bio-plastic polylactic acid. Advances in Engineering

Green synthesis of novel biocomposites from treated cellulosic fibers and recycled bio-plastic polylactic acid. Advances in Engineering

About the author

Satinder Kaur Brar is Professor at Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (Eau, Terre et Environnement, INRS-ETE), Québec, Canada. She graduated in Master’s in Organic Chemistry from National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India with Master’s in Technology in Environmental Sciences and Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Mumbai, India and a Ph.D. in Environmental Biotechnology from INRS, Quebec, Canada in 2007. After a short post-doctoral fellowship at McGill University, she started her career as Assistant Professor at INRS-ETE. She is leading the research group on the Bioprocessing and Nano-Enzyme Formulation Facility (BANEFF) at INRS-ETE.

Her research interests lie in the development of finished products (formulations) of wastewater and wastewater sludge based value-added bioproducts, such as enzymes, organic acids, platform chemicals, biocontrol agents, biopesticides, butanol and biohydrogen. She is also interested in the fate of endocrine disrupter compounds, pharmaceuticals, nanoparticles and other toxic organic compounds during value-addition of wastewater and wastewater sludge in turn finding suitable biological detoxification technologies.

About the author

Tarek Rouissi  is actually working as research associate at INRS and also consultant for IGS-Impact Global solutions,  he is a PhD in environmental sciences form university of INRS (2012), he has also a Master in industrial engineering (polymers and composites), and an engineering diploma in food industries. He possesses a solid experience in development of innovative solutions for environmental problems and has been working on more than 15 projects related to waste valorisation, agriculture biotechnology, green chemistry, removal of emerging contaminants, soil bioremediation…etc.

His R&D activities comprised also development of bioinoculants and biopesticides formulations. He has about 40 peer-reviewed articles/book chapters and contributed to supervision and co-supervision of more than 20 graduate/ under-graduate students.

About the author

Mohamed Amine Laadila is M.Sc in water sciences from university of INRS (2017), he was working in bio-composite formulation using natural fibers and recycled polylactic acid PLAr he has also in environmental technology from ISHED (Morocco). He is research assistant at INRS since 2017, his research interests’ lie in the development of biocomposites and bioconversion of wastes to value added products.

About the author

Krishnamoorthy Hegde is a postdoctoral researcher at Centre Eau Terre Environnement, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS-ETE), Québec, Canada. He holds Ph.D. in biotechnology from Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati.  His research interest lies in metabolic engineering of microorganisms for conversion of biomass residues and industrial waste into biofuels and value-added products, green synthesis of functionalized polymers, development of advanced biosensors for environmental applications, treatment of emerging contaminants in wastewater and drinking water, and bioremediation of petroleum crude wastes. In addition to research activities, he is also involved in co-teaching of courses to postgraduates, co-supervising 4 Ph.D. students, Master students and short-term trainees at INRS-ETE.

His research contribution is credited with more than 20 peer reviewed research and review articles, 3 patents (published/filed), 2 edited books and more than 15 book chapters. He also received several prestigious fellowships and awards, such as FRQNT Postdoctoral Fellowship, TWAS-CONACYT Postdoctoral Fellowship, and TUM Post-Doc Mobility Fellowship

About the author

Kofi Abokitse is the founder (2012), president and general manager of Ozymes, a biotechnology company, in the field of enzymes discoveries, and their characterisation; Ozymes produce and commercialise innovative of enzymatic products (cleaning and animal feeds). K. Abokitse obtained a master and doctorate degree in Applied Biochemistry, Biocatalysis from Institute for Molecular Enzyme Technology (IMET), Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany. He worked as research assistant at the same Institute on enzymatic process for chiral chemicals production. He was Research associate, at Biotechnology Research Institute (BRI), focusing on process development by means of Biotransformation and Bioconversion for value added chemicals from agro-industrial waste, and byproducts.

Other research topics included biomodification and biofunctionalisation of natural fibers for biocomposites, enzymes immobilisation. Kofi Abokitse holds a degree in Business Administration (MBA) from University Laval. Current research interests of Kofi Abokitse cover enzymes for sustainable development, and biological approaches to reducing environmental impact.

About the author

Luca Sorelli is professor at the Civil Engineering Department of Université Laval since 2009. Previously, he worked as a research engineer at Lafarge Research Center, research assistant at the Civil Engineering Department of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and research assistant at IFSTTAR Paris. He founded the first nano-mechanical laboratory in Quebec to characterize the microstructures of composites.

His research group has the mission to develop composite material applications to meet the needs of today’s society and environmental challenges by focusing on a three-axed multiscale approach: (i) micro-mechanical characterization; (ii) multi-scale modeling; (iii) analysis and design of composite structures and ultra-high performance concretes.

About the author

Maria da Conceição Paiva is assistant professor at the Polymer Engineering Department of the University of Minho (Portugal) since 1998 to present. From 2000 to 2003 she was a visiting assistant professor at Clemson University, at the Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films. She is a member of the Institute for Polymers and Composites at the University of Minho. The current research interests cover the areas of i) surface and interfacial modification of carbon nanomaterials (nanotubes, graphene and nanofibers) and cellulose fibres and nanofibres for polymer composite applications; ii) production of graphene nanoribbons and nanoflakes and their nanostructured composites; iii) recycling of plastics and composites. She participated in more than 18 projects, highlighting the following as principal investigator: European Space Agency project – Production of electrically conductive thermoplastic filament using graphene (2016); Green Dot Society (SPV) Project TRAVETEC – Railway sleepers in recycled plastics, 2012-2014; i3N project – Grafitran: Graphene nanoribbons for transistors (2012); FCT project – Organic functionalization of carbon nanofibres and study of their composites with polymer matrices (2005-2009).

She published 60 articles in international peer reviewed journals and presented more than 45 oral communications, 11 of which as an invited speaker. Currently, she is the director of the master in micro and nanotechnologies at the University of Minho.

About the author

Ridha Ben Cheikh started his career as Industrial Chemical Engineer at the Ecole Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Tunis (ENIT, Tunisia), after that,  he obtained a Master and a PhD degrees in Organic Chemistry from University Claude Bernard in France. Then he obtained a doctorate in chemistry from the sciences faculty of Tunis. He became Assistant, then Assistant Professor and at the end Professor in the same Institution. His Researches focus essentially, besides the Organic Synthesis on the Environmental Chemistry and the Bio transformations of Organic Wastes and their Modeling. Furthermore, he works on the Elaboration, Characterization and Modeling of Biocomposite Materials, based on Biopolymers reinforced by Local Natural Fibers.

Pr. BEN CHEIKH has more than hundred International Publications and Conference Communications in these fields. Since few years, he is interested into the Innovation Theme. He is the Academic Director of a Master Degree, at ENIT on the Innovation Management, and he is also Director of the Research Laboratory on Material, Optimization and Energy for the Sustainability (LAMOED).


Mohamed Amine Laadila, Krishnamoorthy Hegde, Tarek Rouissi, Satinder Kaur Brar, Rosa Galvez, Luca Sorelli, Ridha Ben Cheikh, Maria Paiva, Kofi Abokitse. Green synthesis of novel biocomposites from treated cellulosic fibers and recycled bio-plastic polylactic acid. Journal of Cleaner Production volume 164 (2017) page 575-586


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