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Effect of Natural Rubber in Polyethylene Composites on Morphology, Mechanical Properties and Biodegradability

Compounding natural additives with synthetic polymers allows developing more eco-friendly materials with enhanced biodegradability. The composite films based on low-density polyethylene (PE) with different content of natural rubber (NR) (10–30 wt%) were investigated. The influence of NR content on structural features, water absorption and mechanical properties of the composites were studied. The 70PE/30NR composite is characterized by the uniform distribution and the smallest size of NR domains (45 ± 5 μm). A tensile test was satisfied by the mechanical properties of the biocomposites, caused by elasticity of NR domains. The tensile strength of 70PE/30NR composite film is 5 ± 0.25 MPa. Higher water absorption of PE/NR composites (1.5–3.7 wt%) compared to neat PE facilitates penetrating vital activity products of microorganisms. Mycological test with mold fungi and full-scale soil test detected the composite with 30 wt% of NR as the most biodegradable (mass loss was 7.2 wt% for 90 days). According to infrared spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry analysis, NR consumption and PE structural changes in the biocomposites after exposure to soil occurred. The PE/NR composites with enhanced biodegradability as well as satisfied mechanical and technological properties have potential applications in packaging and agricultural films.

Publication date: 13/02/2020

Author: Mastalygina

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym12020437

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.