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Polymers 2018, 10(2), 202;

Impact of Nanoclays on the Biodegradation of Poly(Lactic Acid) Nanocomposites

School of Packaging, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 January 2018 / Revised: 11 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 17 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers from Renewable Resources)
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Poly(lactic acid) (PLA), a well-known biodegradable and compostable polymer, was used in this study as a model system to determine if the addition of nanoclays affects its biodegradation in simulated composting conditions and whether the nanoclays impact the microbial population in a compost environment. Three different nanoclays were studied due to their different surface characteristics but similar chemistry: organo-modified montmorillonite (OMMT), Halloysite nanotubes (HNT), and Laponite® RD (LRD). Additionally, the organo-modifier of MMT, methyl, tallow, bis-2-hydroxyethyl, quaternary ammonium (QAC), was studied. PLA and PLA bio-nanocomposite (BNC) films were produced, characterized, and used for biodegradation evaluation with an in-house built direct measurement respirometer (DMR) following the analysis of evolved CO2 approach. A biofilm formation essay and scanning electron microscopy were used to evaluate microbial attachment on the surface of PLA and BNCs. The results obtained from four different biodegradation tests with PLA and its BNCs showed a significantly higher mineralization of the films containing nanoclay in comparison to the pristine PLA during the first three to four weeks of testing, mainly attributed to the reduction in the PLA lag time. The effect of the nanoclays on the initial molecular weight during processing played a crucial role in the evolution of CO2. PLA-LRD5 had the greatest microbial attachment on the surface as confirmed by the biofilm test and the SEM micrographs, while PLA-QAC0.4 had the lowest biofilm formation that may be attributed to the inhibitory effect also found during the biodegradation test when the QAC was tested by itself. View Full-Text
Keywords: montmorillonite; halloysite; Laponite®; composting; biofilm; degradation; bio-based montmorillonite; halloysite; Laponite®; composting; biofilm; degradation; bio-based

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Castro-Aguirre, E.; Auras, R.; Selke, S.; Rubino, M.; Marsh, T. Impact of Nanoclays on the Biodegradation of Poly(Lactic Acid) Nanocomposites. Polymers 2018, 10, 202.

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