Engineering HDR Seminar Series 6, 2013: Bio-nanocomposites for Packaging Application: Physio-chemical Properties of Poly (lactic) Acid/Halloysite Nanotube Nanocomposite Films

Mr Rangika Thilan De Silva, postgraduate (Mechanical Engineering)

Date: 2013-02-21
Time: 10:00 to 11:00
Venue: Engineering Meeting Room 1, 5-4-22 (


At present, petrochemical-based plastics are commonly used in many industries. Yet, environmental concerns over these materials have led to the search for biodegradable alternatives in several industries including food packaging. With regard to this issue, the renewable resource-based polymer, poly (lactic acid) (PLA) holds a greater demand due to its biodegradability, biocompatibility, compostability, and hydrophobicity. However, limitations in mechanical, thermal, and gas barrier properties have restricted its usage in a wider range of applications in the packaging industry. Therefore, this study aims to fabricate PLA nanocomposite films reinforced with halloysite nanotubes (HNT) in order to improve the mechanical, thermal, and barrier properties of PLA biopolymers for packaging applications. Performance of the nanocomposite films will be optimized by incorporating chemically-modified HNTs, a suitable plasticizer, and various types of HNTs with different morphological characteristics. The physical and chemical properties of these prepared nanocomposite films will then be examined using different characterisation techniques such as tensile test, DMA, SEM and TEM, FTIR, TGA, contact angle test, and water vapour permeability test. Finally, these experimental data will be validated with a computational model, developed with the aid of finite element analysis (FEA). The final results of the study would be able to suggest the best HNT concentration, and a suitable modifier and plasticizer, which could optimize the performance of PLA/HNT nanocomposite films.


About the Speaker

Mr Rangika graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering with Honours) from Monash University, Sunway Campus in 2011. He received the IMechE project award for the final year project of the graduate degree in 2011 from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Malaysia. He joined the postgraduate program in Monash in 2012, and is under the supervision of Dr Pooria Pasbakhsh, Dr. Goh Kheng Lim, and Dr Chai Siang-Piao. His research focus is on reinforcing poly (lactic acid) (PLA) by incorporating halloysite nanotubes (HNTs) and characterising its physical and chemical properties.