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Wood Esterification by Fatty Acids Using Trifluoroacetic Anhydride as an Impelling Agent and Its Application for the Synthesis of a New Bioplastic

Fatty acids (FA) and their derivatives with long alkyl chain structures are good candidates for wood esterification to confer thermoplastic properties to wood. Nevertheless, they do not react easily with hydroxyl groups of wood. In this study, we investigated the reactivity of wood with various fatty acids of different chain lengths using trifluoroacetic anhydride (TFAA) as the impelling agent in various reaction conditions. Generally, the esterification of fatty acids without solvents resulted in higher Weight Percentage Gain (WPG) and ester content than the reaction in the presence of CH2Cl2. The esterification reaction could be performed effectively at room temperature, though an increased reaction temperature provoked degradation of the esterified wood. WPG of 67% was obtained for the C3 and 253% for the C16 alkyl chain analogs, respectively. Nevertheless, the ester content was fairly uniform, with values between 10.60 and 11.81 mmol ester/gram of wood for all chain lengths. A higher quantity of reagent led to higher ester content, which tended to stabilize after a ratio of 1:4 wood and TFAA/FA. The esterification reaction was performed rapidly, with an ester content between 7.65 and 9.94 mmol ester/gram of wood being achieved only after 15 min of reaction. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis was performed to confirm the drastic chemical changes of wood before and after esterification. Morphological observation by scanning electron microscope (SEM), softening measurement by thermomechanical analysis (TMA), and contact angle measurements demonstrated the possibility of esterified spruce wood being applied as a new bioplastic.

Publication date: 24/10/2023

Author: Prabu Satria Sejati

Reference: doi: 10.3390/ma16216830

MDPI (materials)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.