Cellulose nanowhisker (NWC) was extracted by hydrolysing Pennisetum purpureum (PP) fibres with acid and alkali. They were subjected to different periods of acid hydrolysis; 30, 45, and 60 min. NWC morphology and physicochemical properties were characterised by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), particle size analyser, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD), and thermogravimetric analysis. NWC3, which underwent the longest hydrolysis time, showed the smallest width and length, under TEM. All samples presented a needle-like shape under TEM and AFM; uneven lengths and irregular shapes under FESEM; and a broad range of distribution, with the particle size analyser. All samples exhibited a good crystallinity index (CrI)-72.0 to 74.6%. The highest CrI% corresponded to 60 min of acid hydrolysis. Thermogravimetric analysis showed thermal stability between 310.72 °C and 336.28 °C. Thus, cellulose nanowhisker from PP fibres, have high potential as bio-nanocomposites.
A packaging material that is environment-friendly with excellent mechanical and physicochemical properties, biodegradable and ultraviolet (UV) protection and thermal stability was prepared to reduce plastic waste. Six different concentrations of Pennisetum purpureum/Napier cellulose nanowhiskers (NWCs) (i.e. 0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, and 3.0 wt%) were used to reinforce polylactic acid (PLA) by a solvent casting method. The resulting bionanocomposite film samples were characterised in terms of their morphology, chemical structure, crystallinity, thermal degradation and stability, light transmittance, water absorption, biodegradability, and physical and mechanical properties. Field-emission scanning electron microscopy showed the excellent dispersion of NWC in the PLA matrix occurred with NWC concentrations of 0.5-1.5 wt%. All the bionanocomposite film samples exhibited good thermal stability at approximately 343-359 °C. The highest water absorption was 1.94%. The lowest transparency at λ800 was 16.16% for the PLA/3.0% NWC bionanocomposite film, which also has the lowest UVA and UVB transmittance of 7.49% and 4.02%, respectively, making it suitable for packaging materials. The PLA/1.0% NWC film exhibited the highest crystallinity of 50.09% and high tensile strength and tensile modulus of 21.22 MPa and 11.35 MPa, respectively.