DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURALLY-DERIVED BIOPOLYMER COMPOSITES FOR NON-FOOD APPLICATIONS
Location: Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering Research
Title: Electron Microscopy as a Valuable Tool for Designing Biobased Products
Submitted to: Microscopy and Microanalysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2008
Publication Date: August 3, 2008
Citation: Imam, S.H., Glenn, G.M., Orts, W.J., Williams, T.G., Wood, D.F., Azam, F. 2008. Electron Microscopy as a Valuable Tool for Designing Biobased Products. Microscopy and Microanalysis. 14(2):1498-1499.
Efforts are being made worldwide, including USDA laboratories [1-2] to investigate new uses for agriculturally-derived and/or biobased materials as well as to improve and transform such materials to create products of novel functionalities. While the knowledge of biopolymers and material processing is critical in the design/development of a biobased product, electron microscopy serves as an invaluable tool in providing insights on product surface characteristics, any unique features, performance and ultimate application.
Natural polymers are inherently biodegradable, however, when processed with other polymers, plasticizers and additives or when chemically crosslinked or enzymatically modified, their biodegradation behavior as well as its overall performance is impacted [3-6]. Particularly, when two or more biodegradable polymers are compounded and processed together, their biodegradability is dependent on the availability of these polymers as a carbon source for microorganisms and their hydrolytic enzymes, as well as the ability of microorganisms to access and utilize these blended polymers. Data will be presented to review the role of microscopy in enhancing our knowledge and understanding of biobased materials with respect to their interaction, morphology, physical/mechanical behavior, functionality, barrier property, functionality, storage, biodegradability and performance.
Results (Figures 1-4) demonstrate the value of microscopic tools in material science and engineering research for characterizing and improving biobased materials and to create consumer articles of desirable functionality.