Properties and Degradation Performances of Biodegradable Poly(lactic acid)/Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) Blends and Keratin Composites
From environmental aspects, the recovery of keratin waste is one of the important needs and therefore also one of the current topics of many research groups. Here, the keratin hydrolysate after basic hydrolysis was used as a filler in plasticized polylactic acid/poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) blend under loading in the range of 1–20 wt%. The composites were characterized by infrared spectroscopy, and the effect of keratin on changes in molar masses of matrices during processing was investigated using gel permeation chromatography (GPC). Thermal properties of the composites were investigated using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The effect of keratin loading on the mechanical properties of composite was investigated by tensile test and dynamic mechanical thermal analysis. Hydrolytic degradation of matrices and composites was investigated by the determination of extractable product amounts, GPC, DSC and NMR. Finally, microbial growth and degradation were investigated. It was found that incorporation of keratin in plasticized PLA/PHB blend provides material with good thermal and mechanical properties and improved degradation under common environmental conditions, indicating its possible application in agriculture and/or packaging.