Biodegradable Composite Foams of PLA and PHBV Using Subcritical CO2

Research paper by Esther Richards, Reza Rizvi, Andrew Chow, Hani Naguib

Indexed on: 16 Oct '08Published on: 16 Oct '08Published in: Journal of Polymers and the Environment


One key strategy for increasing the application potential for biodegradable plastics lies in improving the physical and mechanical characteristics, which can be attained by inducing a cellular morphology in the pure polymer with the aid of a blowing agent, as well as by blending two or more polymers with the desirable properties. This paper examines the effect that blending two biodegradable polymers has on the thermal properties and morphology of the resultant foams blown with carbon dioxide (CO2). Polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxybutyrate-co-valerate (PHBV) and blends of both were foamed and characterized in terms of thermal characteristics, relative density, cell size, and foam morphology. The results indicate that although PLA and PHBV are immiscible, the presence of small quantities of PHBV (25 wt%) could lead to low density foams with finer, more uniform cells. Furthermore, the crystallinity of PHBV was found to be unaffected by the presence of PLA in the composite, which supports the immiscibility of PLA and PHBV.