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International journal of biological macromolecules

From biowaste to bioresource: Effect of a lignocellulosic filler on the properties of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate).


PMID 25086181

Abstract

A lignin-rich residue (LRR) obtained as a by-product from the fermentative bioethanol production process, and commercial alkali lignin (AL), were used as fillers for the preparation of bio-based blends and composites with poly(3-hydrobutyrate) (PHB). Chemical characterization of LRR demonstrated that the filler contained sugar residues. Rheological and thermal characterization of the blends demonstrated that LRR did not affect thermal stability of PHB, while AL had a strong pro-degrading effect. Addition of suitable amounts of LRR dramatically affected the rheological behavior of the polymer melt, suggesting that the additive can modify polymer processability. LRR was also a heterogeneous nucleating agent, potentially able to control the physical aging of PHB. Lower resilience and elongation at break values were found for the biocomposites, due to the poor interfacial adhesion between filler and matrix. Biodegradation behavior of the composites was qualitatively assessed by analyzing the surface of soil buried films. Significant surface degradation was observed for PHB, while the process was retarded at high filler concentration, as LRR inhibited hydrolytic and biotic polymer degradation. The reported results demonstrated the feasibility of the conversion of an agro-industrial by-product into a bio-resource in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way.