Supercritical CO2 Impregnation of Thymol in Thermoplastic Starch-Based Blends: Chemico-Physical Properties and Release Kinetics
The aim of the present study was to investigate starch-based materials, prepared in an environmentally friendly way and from renewable resources, suitable for the development of biodegradable active food packaging. For this purpose, a bioactive compound (thymol) was incorporated into thermoplastic starch (TPS) and a TPS blend with poly (&epsilon;-caprolactone) (TPS&ndash;PCL) by the supercritical CO2 (scCO2) impregnation process. Impregnation experiments with scCO2 were carried out at a pressure of 30 MPa and temperatures in the range of 40&ndash;100 &deg;C during 1 to 20 h. The structural, morphological, and thermal properties of the obtained materials were comprehensively evaluated. Bioactive component release kinetic studies were performed in water at 6 &deg;C and 25 &deg;C. It was shown that the scCO2 impregnation process could be successfully employed for thymol loading into TPS and TPS&ndash;PCL. The process was significantly influenced by the operating temperature and time as well as content of PCL. The samples showed a controlled release of thymol within seven days with a higher amount of released thymol from the TPS&ndash;PCL blend. The obtained materials are solvent-free and release the bioactive component in a controlled manner.