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Improvement of Poly(lactic acid)-Poly(hydroxy butyrate) Blend Properties for Use in Food Packaging: Processing, Structure Relationships

Poly(lactic acid)-poly(hydroxybutyrate) (PLA-PHB)-based nanocomposite films were prepared with bio-based additives (CNCs and ChNCs) and oligomer lactic acid (OLA) compatibilizer using extrusion and then blown to films at pilot scale. The aim was to identify suitable material formulations and nanocomposite production processes for film production at a larger scale targeting food packaging applications. The film-blowing process for both the PLA-PHB blend and CNC-nanocomposite was unstable and led to non-homogeneous films with wrinkles and creases, while the blowing of the ChNC-nanocomposite was stable and resulted in a smooth and homogeneous film. The optical microscopy of the blown nanocomposite films indicated well-dispersed chitin nanocrystals while the cellulose crystals were agglomerated to micrometer-size particles. The addition of the ChNCs also resulted in the improved mechanical performance of the PLA-PHB blend due to well-dispersed crystals in the nanoscale as well as the interaction between biopolymers and the chitin nanocrystals. The strength increased from 27 MPa to 37 MPa compared to the PLA-PHB blend and showed almost 36 times higher elongation at break resulting in 10 times tougher material. Finally, the nanocomposite film with ChNCs showed improved oxygen barrier performance as well as faster degradation, indicating its potential exploitation for packaging applications.

Publication date: 24/11/2022

Author: Mitul Kumar Patel

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym14235104

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.