Role of polyethylene-graft-glycidyl methacrylate compatibilizer on the biodegradation of poly(epsilon-calprolactone)/cellulose acetate blends
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Biodegradable polymers provide an attractive solution to reduce environmental pollution caused by the accumulation of plastic waste in landfills. In this study, the effect of polyethylene-graft-glycidyl methacrylate (PE-g-GMA) on the biodegradation of blends of poly(epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL) and cellulose acetate (CA) (80/20, 60/40, 40/60, and 20/80 PCL/CA, w/w) was assessed by mass retention, tensile strength, and morphological properties. The principal fungal strains present in the soil after biodegradation were also identified. PCL and the blends containing 60% and 80% PCL showed greater mass loss and superficial change in simulated soil. PE-g-GMA increased the tensile strength retention during 3 months of aging in simulated soil. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) indicated that pure PCL was more porous, which enhanced the hydrolysis and biodegradation of PCL. PE-g-GMA decreased the mass loss of the polymers, possibly by enhancing the interaction between PCL and CA, with the formation of hydrogen bonds between the carbonyl groups of PCL and the hydroxyl groups of CA. This effect was marked in blends with >40% PCL. Microbiological analysis revealed the presence of several species of fungi in the soil. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.