Submitted to: Polymers and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2008
Publication Date: 2/15/2008
Citation: Cinelli, P., Cinelli, E., Imam, S.H. 2008. Hybrid composite based on poly(vinyl alcohol) and fillers from renewable resources. Polymers and the Environment. 109(3):1684-1691. Interpretive Summary: Single-use consumer packaging products are made from petroleum-based chemicals. To seek suitable alternative to petrochemicals, biodegradable composites were prepared by successfully injection-moulding surplus farm materials (plant fibre) with the biodegradable polymers. These composites had good mechanical properties and biodegraded upon disposal. It is envisioned that some day such environmentally compatible products will replace undesirable petrochemicals in single-use consumer products as this is needed to achieve sustainability and ecological conservation. Additionally, utilizing surplus farm materials in bioproducts will improve rural economy and directly benefit American farmers.
Technical Abstract: Hybrid composite laminates consisting of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) as continuous phase and lignocellulosic fibres, derived from sugarcane bagasse, apple and orange waste were moulded in a carver press in the presence of water and glycerol such as platicizers agents. Corn starch was introduced as a biodegradation promoter and gluing component of the natural filler and synthetic polymeric matrix in the composite. The prepared laminates were characterized for their mechanical properties and degradative behaviour in simulated soil burial experiments. The fibres type and content in composite impacted mechanical properties. Materials prepared with apple wastes and sugarcane bagasse fibres were much harder than materials prepared with orange wastes. Respirometric test revealed that soil microbes preferentially used natural polymers and low molecular weight additive as a carbon source compared to biodegradable synthetic polymer. The presence of PVA in formulations had no negative effect on the degradation of lignocellulosic fibres.