, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 505–517 | Cite as

The effect of side-chain length of cellulose fatty acid esters on their thermal, barrier and mechanical properties

  • Pia Willberg-Keyriläinen
  • Jari Vartiainen
  • Ali Harlin
  • Jarmo Ropponen
Original Paper


Currently, long-chain cellulose esters are not produced commercially because of high price, and since their preparation typically requires a large quantity of chemicals. To reduce the chemical consumption, cellulose reactivity needs to be increased without losing its quality. One way to increase the reactivity of cellulose is to decrease its molar mass in a controlled manner. In this study, we have synthesized cellulose esters with different side-chain length (C6–C18) in a homogeneous system using ozone molar mass-controlled cellulose. The target was to keep the degree of substitution as low as possible while still ensuring the suitability of cellulose esters for solvent casting. Thermal, barrier and mechanical properties were studied depending on cellulose fatty acid ester side-chain length. All our molar mass-controlled cellulose esters form optically transparent, flexible and heat-sealable films with good water barrier properties and are processable without the addition of an external plasticizer. Furthermore, the films have mechanical properties comparable to some generally used plastics. These good properties suggest that our molar mass-controlled cellulose esters could be potential candidates for various applications such as films and composites.


Long-chain cellulose esters Molar mass controlled cellulose Thermal properties Barrier properties Mechanical properties 



We would like to thank Eija Silvasti for her laboratory assistance and Vuokko Liukkonen for her help with the contact angle measurements.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pia Willberg-Keyriläinen
    • 1
  • Jari Vartiainen
    • 1
  • Ali Harlin
    • 1
  • Jarmo Ropponen
    • 1
  1. 1.VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.VTTFinland

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