Study of the Physical and Mechanical Properties of Thermoplastic Starch/Poly(Lactic Acid) Blends Modified with Acid Agents
In this work, we present a functionalization strategy of starch-poly(lactic acid) (PLA) blends with organic acids. Lactic and acetic acid were used as acid agents, and oleic acid was also included in the previous acids, with the aim of finding a synergy that thermodynamically benefits the products and provides hydrophobicity. The ratio of starch and sorbitol was 70:30, and the added acid agent replaced 6% of the plasticizer; meanwhile, the thermoplastic starch (TPS)–PLA blend proportion was 70:30 considering the modified TPS. The mixtures were obtained in a torque rheometer at 50 rpm for 10 min at 150 °C. The organic acids facilitated interactions between TPS and PLA. Although TPS and PLA are not miscible, PLA uniformly dispersed into the starch matrix. Furthermore, a reduction in the surface polarity was achieved, which enabled the wettability to reach values close to those of neat PLA (TPS–L-PLA increased by 55% compared to TPS–PLA). The rheological results showed a modulus similar to that of TPS. In general, there were transitions from elastic to viscous, in which the viscous phase predominated. The first and second-order thermal transitions did not show significant changes. The structural affinity of lactic acid with biopolymers (TPS–L-PLA) allowed a greater interaction and was corroborated with the mechanical properties, resulting in a greater resistance with respect to pure TPS and blended TPS–PLA (28.9%). These results are particularly relevant for the packaging industry.