Submitted to: International Workshop on Biodegradable Plastics and Polymers
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 30, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Developing new materials with useful physical properties and predictable degradation behavior from farm products is an area of research focus at the USDA. In one approach, linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) was blended with starch and/or cellulosic fibers (from sources such as recycled paper, woodflour, sugarcane bagasse and citrus waste) and heat compressed into thin sheets. Various plasticizers and compatibilizing and crosslinking agents were used to improve properties and performance of these materials. Composites exhibited variable mechanical and water resistance properties depending on the source of cellulose. SEM analyses showed improved compatibility between LLDPE and cellulosic fibers in the presence of a coupling agent. Matrices deteriorated slowly in laboratory studies and deterioration was initiated when cellulosic fibers degraded in the matrix. LLDPE did not significantly degrade as determined by FTIR spectroscopy. The rate of deterioration could be controlled by adjusting the amount of cellulosic fibers present in the blend. These materials may be used in applications where slow deterioration is desirable and one "real-world" application, evaluated by an industrial partner, will be discussed.