Spruce (Picea abies) O-acetyl-galactoglucomannans (GGMs), low-value by-products from the forestry industry were upgraded to sustainable film-forming materials by crosslinking with ammonium zirconium carbonate (AZC). The purpose of crosslinking was to enhance the film formation, reduce the need of polyol plasticizers, and decrease the sensitivity of the film properties to moisture. Tensile testing showed that AZC-crosslinked GGM can be used to prepare strong and stiff films, with tensile strength up to 52 MPa and Young's modulus of 4.7 GPa. Dynamic mechanical analysis, performed as a function of relative humidity (RH), showed that AZC-crosslinked GGM films retained their stiffness at higher RH than the reference films without AZC. Water vapor sorption and permeability analyses were done to further study the effect of moisture on the film properties, and those showed that the effect of sorbitol as a plasticizer depended greatly on RH. The oxygen permeability of the AZC-crosslinked GGM films was in the range of 4-11 [cm(3) mu m/(m(2) day kPa)]. GGM films could offer a bio-based and biodegradable alternative to existing synthetic oxygen barrier materials, on the condition that they are protected from the effects of moisture, e.g., by hydrophobic laminated layers.
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