Biodegradation in Soil of PLA/PBAT Blends Compatibilized with Chain Extender

Abstract

This paper presents a study of biodegradation, in soil, of samples of poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate)(PBAT), poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and blends of these materials prepared in torque rheometer with the addition of a chain extender. Film samples of these materials were buried in soil under controlled laboratory conditions. The degraded samples were regularly taken from soil and analyzed by visual inspection, size exclusion chromatography, differential scanning calorimetry and infrared spectroscopy. Respirometry biodegradation tests were conducted to assess samples mineralization degree. Blends showed higher degree of crystallinity compared to pure polymers. Crystallinity degree enhanced during the biodegradation process in all samples, being able to causing the samples to degrade slowly. The study showed the great complexity of the biodegradation process of PLA and PBAT blends when compatibilized with a chain extender. The biodegradation rate showed different results depending on the characteristic applied to evaluate it: visual, molecular weight or mineralization. The chain extender had strong influence in PBAT and blends degradation, slowing the process as observed by the variation of molecular weight and carbonyl index. Blends showed an intermediate behavior compared to the original polymers.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Foundation for Research of the State of São Paulo—FAPESP (Process 2014/09883-5) and National Council of Scientific and Technological Development CNPQ for the financial support, and the MICROMAT (Prof. Lucia Innocentini Mei) for the mineralization tests.

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Correspondence to Ana Rita Morales.

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Palsikowski, P.A., Kuchnier, C.N., Pinheiro, I.F. et al. Biodegradation in Soil of PLA/PBAT Blends Compatibilized with Chain Extender. J Polym Environ 26, 330–341 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10924-017-0951-3

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Keywords

  • Poly(lactic acid)
  • Poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate)
  • Biodegradation
  • Soil biodegradation
  • Compatibilized blends