Submitted to: Biomacromolecules
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/10/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Crop residue and industrially processed fruit and vegetable waste represents a tremendous resource of renewable cellulosic fibers. This report shows that as an alternative to petrochemicals derived from imported petroleum, these fibers can be used as fillers in polymeric matrix to provide a plastic-like material for use as agricultural mulch films. Thus, ,reducing both our dependence on foreign oil and negative trade imbalance. Low cost and inherent biodegradability of cellulosic fibers is an added advantage for developing single use consumer products. Utilization of such materials will help add value to commodity crops and will result in improved farm economy.
Technical Abstract: Agricultural mulch films were prepared by casting from aqueous suspensions of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and agro-fibers containing starch, urea and glycerol. Composition and cellulose fiber size influenced mechanical properties of the films. Variations in urea, glycerol and starch contents impacted mechanical properties of the film. However, presence of urea and glycerol generally produced more flexible films. Addition of starch resulted in only modest loss of mechanical properties of the films, but greatly reduced the cost of films. Crosslinking of fibers and PVA with hexamethoxymethylmalamine produced films of improved moisture resistance which degraded slowly in soil. It is expected that the presence of cellulosic fibers will help maintain organic matter in the soil and release of urea upon film degradation would act as an additional source of fertilizer nitrogen.