Nanocomposites Materials of PLA Reinforced with Nanoclays Using a Masterbatch Technology: A Study of the Mechanical Performance and Its Sustainability
Packaging consumes around 40% of the total plastic production. One of the most important fields with high requirements is food packaging. Food packaging products have been commonly produced with petrol polymers, but due to environmental concerns, the market is being moved to biopolymers. Poly (lactic acid) (PLA) is the most promising biopolymer, as it is bio-based and biodegradable, and it is well established in the market. Nonetheless, its barrier properties need to be enhanced to be competitive with other polymers such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Nanoclays improve the barrier properties of polymeric materials if correct dispersion and exfoliation are obtained. Thus, it marks a milestone to obtain an appropriate dispersion. A predispersed methodology is proposed as a compounding process to improve the dispersion of these composites instead of common melt procedures. Afterwards, the effect of the polarity of the matrix was analyzing using polar and surface modified nanoclays with contents ranging from 2 to 8% w/w. The results showed the suitability of the predispersed and concentrated compound, technically named masterbatch, to obtain intercalated structures and the higher dispersion of polar nanoclays. Finally, the mechanical performance and sustainability of the prepared materials were simulated in a food tray, showing the best assessment of these materials and their lower fingerprint.
Publication date: 29/06/2021
Author: Helena Oliver-Ortega
Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym13132133