Eustathios Petinakis, Xingxun Liu, Long Yu , Cameron Way, Parveen Sangwan, Katherine Dean, Stuart Bateman, Graham Edward
CSIRO, Materials Science and Engineering, Melbourne, Vic 3169, Australia.
The effect of hydrophilic fillers (starch and wood-flour) on the degradation and decomposition of poly (lactic acid) (PLA) based materials was investigated. Biodegradation was evaluated by composting under controlled conditions in accordance with AS ISO 14855. Thermal decomposition was studied by thermogravimetry (TGA). Morphological variations during biodegradation were investigated by SEM examination. It was found that biodegradation rates of PLA/starch blends and PLA/wood-flour composites were lower than that of pure cellulose but higher than that of pure PLA. The biodegradation rate was increased from about 60% to 80% when the starch content was increased from 10% to 40% after 80 days. Both starch and wood-flour accelerated thermal decomposition of PLA, and starch exhibited a relatively stronger affect then wood-flour. The decomposition temperature of PLA was decreased about 40°C when the filler content was increased to 40%. Small polar molecules released during thermal decomposition of starch and wood-flour were attributed to the thermal decomposition behaviours of the PLA based blends and composites and their role is further discussed in this paper.