Peer-reviewed article (Open Access) : Photocuring of Epoxidized Cardanol for Biobased Composites with Microfibrillated Cellulose

Cardanol is a natural alkylphenolic compound derived from Cashew NutShell Liquid (CNSL), a non-food annually renewable raw material extracted from cashew nutshells. In the quest for sustainable materials, the curing of biobased monomers and prepolymers with environmentally friendly processes attracts increasing interest. Photopolymerization is considered a green technology owing to low energy requirements, room temperature operation with high reaction rates, and absence of solvents. In this work we study the photocuring of a commercially available epoxidized cardanol, and explore its use in combination with microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) for the fabrication of fully biobased composites. Wet MFC mats were prepared by filtration, and then impregnated with the resin. The impregnated mats were then irradiated with UV light. Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectroscopy was used to investigate the photocuring of the epoxidized cardanol, and of the composites. The thermomechanical properties of the composites were assessed by thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry and dynamic mechanical analysis. We confirmed that fully cured composites could be obtained, although a high photoinitiator concentration was needed, possibly due to a side reaction of the photoinitiator with MFC.