Submitted to: Materials Research Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 12, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Starch has long been studied as a raw material for various polymer products because of its low cost, inherent biodegradability, and wide availability as an agricultural product. This interest has intensified in recent years due to the interest in biodegradable materials for disposable applications. The unique structure and properties of starch present challenges to the materials' researcher. At the same time, these properties offer great flexibility in using starch. Numerous materials have been developed using granular starch as an inert filler in thermoplastics. Starch content is limited in these materials due to the decrease in mechanical properties at high loadings generally observed in filled systems. An alternative approach is to convert the starch into a thermoplastic by the addition of water or other plasticizers. The granule structure of the starch is disrupted, and blends with significantly higher starch contents can be achieved. Expanded starch foams can be produced using water as a blowing agent. Chemical modification, such as classical esterification or etherification and graft copolymerization, has been utilized to impart desirable properties to films and moldings. This presentation will discuss from a historical perspective the development of starch-based polymer materials.