Study of mechanical properties and damage mechanisms in plasticized cellulose acetate polymers

Abstract : Cellulose acetate (CA) is a bio based polymer. Melt processing of cellulose based thermoplastic polymers is a real challenge. One problem is the existence of a narrow window between the melting point and the degradation temperatures for cellulose acetate with a substitution degree (DS) around 2.45 (which is developed and commercialized by Rhodia Acetow). As a consequence, its processing can only be considered with a sufficient amount of externalplasticizer (between 15 and 30% by weight). The corresponding polymer/plasticizer blends areamorphous and their mechanical properties are mainly governed by the presence of a high volume fraction of strong hydrogen bonds. The plasticization of cellulose acetate has been thesubject of many studies allowing us to focus on two plasticizers: triacetin (TA), an eco-friendlyplasticizer frequently used for cellulose acetate and diethyl phthalate (DEP) which is the historicplasticizer of cellulose acetate which constitutes a reference for this work as it is usually the case in the literature. Few studies have been published regarding the mechanical properties of bulk cellulose acetate (prepared via injection molding). It is described that they are comparable to those of PS or poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and have proven to be particularly interesting. Cellulose acetate based materials usually display a high Young modulus. But its small deformation at break limits its potential for new applications. The objectives of this thesis are to deeply understand the mechanical properties and damage mechanisms of bulk plasticized cellulose acetate polymers. For this purpose we first analyzed the tensile behavior and the influence of various parameters such as nature and content of the plasticizer, but also the influence of the injection process. We have thus been able to highlight the appearance of a strain hardening regime from 8% of deformation under certain conditions. It appears that the choice of the plasticizer, the temperature of the experiment and the macroscopic pre-orientation of the chains significantly influence this regime. Strain hardening has already been observed in other amorphous polymers such as polycarbonate (PC) or poly (methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) which are classified as amorphous polymers called "ductile". The origin of this regime is still undeveloped and much debated, however it appears that it stabilizes the deformation by avoiding the localization of damage and is therefore a key parameter for improving the ductility of these polymers. In order to better understand this ductility, we have made some analysis by Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM) as well as Ultra Small Angles X-ray Scattering (USAXS). Thanks to these characterizations we have been able to describe the micromechanisms of damage from macro to nano-scales and thus precisely describe the micromechanisms related to initiation and propagation of damage. By these analyzes we highlight the simultaneous nucleation of nano crazes around pre-existing defects (related to the injection process). These crazes grow slowly until reaching the hundred microns. However, when the applied stress becomes sufficiently high, a small portion of these crazes starts to grow faster until the failure of the sample. With DEP the kinetics of growth is very fast, causing a brittle failure of the sample. With TA this growth is slower, which makes it possible to observe the evolution of the larger crazes. This work proposes a new mechanism of damage in plasticized cellulose acetate based on experimental results and physical interpretations
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Agathe Charvet. Study of mechanical properties and damage mechanisms in plasticized cellulose acetate polymers. Material chemistry. Université de Lyon, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019LYSE1032⟩. ⟨tel-02165223⟩

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