Valorization of Arundo donax for the production of high performance lignocellulosic films.
This work reports on the valorization of the biomass from the aquatic invasive species Arundo donax for the extraction of lignocellulosic fractions and the development of films with interest in food packaging. Stems and leaves were separately evaluated, with the stems producing higher yields and better properties for the extracted fractions. The purification of cellulose by removing hemicelluloses led to more crystalline and thermally stable fractions, which were more homogeneously dispersed in water and produced films with enhanced transparency, mechanical and water barrier properties. The application of a simplified extraction protocol, avoiding the use of organic solvents, led to the presence of minor amounts of lipidic impurities in the fractions, which, surprisingly, had a positive impact in the properties of the films. In particular, the film obtained from the purified cellulose without Soxhlet treatment (F3A) outperforms biopolymeric materials such as starch and PLA in terms of mechanical and water barrier performance.