Dispersion of unfractionated CO2-derived protein-rich microalgae (Chlorella sp. HS2) for ecofriendly polymer composite fabrication

Jin Hoon Yang, Joung Sook Hong, Jeong Seop Lee, Sang Jun Sim, Kyung Hyun Ahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates unfractionated protein-rich microalgae (Chlorella sp. HS2) (HS2) as a new CO2-derived biomass filler resource with which to develop an ecofriendly microalgae-based polymer composite. Unfractionated HS2 is mixed with poly(ethylene-vinyl acetate) (EVA) over wide range of concentrations ranging from 10 to 70 wt%. The dispersion of HS2 is analyzed based on morphological, rheological and mechanical measurements. Protein-rich HS2 has hydrophilic-hydrophobic surface due to the existence of chemical functional groups (C[dbnd]O, N-H) caused by high protein content (51% protein), predicting compatibility with EVA with polar functional (C[dbnd]O). Due to this compatibility, with 10–30 wt% of HS2, the composite shows a homogeneous micrometer-scale dispersion of HS2 in the EVA matrix (avg. diameter (Davg) ~ 7 µm). The composite maintains the dispersion of the HS2 without significant coalescence or network formation up to 50 wt% of HS2 (Davg ~ 10 µm). Correspondingly, the storage modulus (G′ at 0.1 rad/s) of the composite increases linearly until the HS2 content reaches 40 wt%, after which it increases exponentially with an increase in the HS2 content. An EVA composite with 10–20 wt% HS2 shows increased ductility (from 1700% to 2000% elongation at break with 10 wt% HS2) without a decrease in the tensile strength due to the homogeneous dispersion. Even with higher concentration of HS2, the composite maintains its ductile behavior and retains its synergistic effect with EVA (~ 500% elongation at break with 70 wt% HS2). The compatibility of HS2 with EVA and their hydrophilic surface delay agglomeration or percolation formation of HS2 cells in a polymer. This study suggests that protein-rich HS2 is a promising biomass filler that disperses in a polymer to the micrometer scale without additional chemical treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103769
JournalMaterials Today Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of south korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIP) (No. 2020M3H7A1098305, No. 2021R1A2C1004746).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Biomass filler
  • Bioplastics
  • Composite
  • Dispersion
  • Melt-compounding
  • Microalgae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Materials Chemistry


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