Role of Plasticizers on PHB/bio-TPE Blends Compatibilized by Reactive Extrusion
Poly(hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) is a biopolymer biologically synthesized by controlled bacterial fermentation from a wide variety of microorganisms. PHB is proposed as a potential green alternative to commonly used plastics in packaging, due to its biodegradability and biocompatibility. However, if PHB is to replace commodities, it has some limitations regarding its thermo-mechanical performance to overcome. Among them are its critically the low toughness values at room temperature and poor thermoforming ability. With the aim of overcoming these weaknesses, in this work, blends of PHB with the addition of a biodegradable thermoplastic elastomer (bio-TPE) were prepared and evaluated. Films of such compounds were made by cast extrusion. In order to enhance the compatibility of both polymers during the extrusion process, three different reactive agents (poly-hexametylene diisocianate, triglycidyl isocyanurate, and Joncryl&reg; ADR-4368) were assessed. The morphology and mechanical- and thermal properties of the films obtained were analyzed. In addition, the thermoforming ability of the produced films was evaluated. The results show that the plasticizers present in the bio-TPE interacted with the reactive agents, making them chemical competitors and altering the outcome of the blends.