The Effects of Additives on the Biodegradation of Polycaprolactone Composites


JOURNAL OF POLYMERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT, vol.26, no.4, pp.1425-1444, 2018 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10924-017-1029-y
  • Page Numbers: pp.1425-1444


Because environmental pollution caused by plastic waste is a major problem investigations concerning biodegradable packaging are important and required. In this study, the biodegradation of PCL composite films with organic (glycerol monooleate and oleic acid) and inorganic additives (organo nano clay) was investigated to understand which additive and the amount of additive was more effective for biodegradation. The relationship between the degree of crystallinity and the effect of additives on the biodegradability of polycaprolactone (PCL) was examined. PCL composite films were prepared using organo nano clay (0.1-0.4-1-3 wt%) and oleic acid (1-3-5 wt%) or GMO (1-3-5 wt%). The 35 films prepared with PCL (P), clay (C), oleic acid (O), or glycerol monooleate (G) are coded as P_C#wt%_O (or G)#wt%. The composite films, P_C0.4_O5 contains 0.4 wt% clay and 5 wt% oleic acid and the P_C3_G1 contains 3 wt% clay and 1 wt% glycerol monooleate. The biodegradation of PCL films in simulated soil was studied for 36 months. The films were periodically removed from the simulated soil and film thicknesses, weight losses, visual changes, crystal structures, and a functional group analyses were performed. PCL composite films are separated into three groups, depending on degradation time, (1) films that degraded before 8 months (fast degradation), (2) films that degraded around 24 months (similar to neat PCL), and (3) films that take longer to degrade (slow degradation). The films in the first group are PCL films with 1 and 3 wt% clay additive and they begin to biodegrade at the 5th month. However, a composite film of PCL with only 0.4 wt% clay and 5 wt% GMO addition has the shortest degradation time and degraded in 5 months. The films in the last group are; P_G3, P_G5, P_C0.1, P_C0.1_O1, and P_C0.1_O5 and they took around 30 months for biodegradation. It was observed that increasing the organo nanoclay additive increases the biodegradability by disrupting the crystal structure and causing a defective crystal formation. The addition of GMO with organo nano clay also accelerates biodegradation. The addition of organo nano clay in an amount as small as 0.1 wt% acts as the nucleating agent, increases the degree of crystallinity of the PCL composites, and slows the biodegradation period by increasing the time.