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Thermal Analysis of Some Environmentally Degradable Polymers


The thermal characteristics of a series of degradable polymers have been investigated using thermogravimetry and differential scanning calorimetry. While the results of the thermogravimetry experiments suggest that the thermal stability of the polymers should not pose any problems at the temperatures that can be expected in a commercial composting process (60°C), phase changes associated with some of the polymers investigated may cause problems in the interpretation of data from composting degradation studies. Several biodegradable polymers were observed to have melt transitions at temperatures similar to those found in a composting environment. Consequently, under the controlled composting conditions used to evaluate biodegradable polymers, degradation of a polymer may be inferred, while actually the polymer has merely undergone a phase change.

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Day, M., Cooney, J.D., Shaw, K. et al. Thermal Analysis of Some Environmentally Degradable Polymers. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry 52, 261–274 (1998).

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  • degradable plastics
  • polycaprolactone
  • polyesters
  • polyethylene
  • polylactic acid
  • starch polymers
  • thermal stability