This work reports the potential of poly(lactic acid)—PLA composites with different halloysite nanotube (HNTs) loading (3, 6 and 9 wt%) for further uses in advanced applications as HNTs could be used as carriers for active compounds for medicine, packaging and other sectors. This work focuses on the effect of HNTs on mechanical, thermal, thermomechanical and degradation of PLA composites with HNTs. These composites can be manufactured by conventional extrusion-compounding followed by injection molding. The obtained results indicate a slight decrease in tensile and flexural strength as well as in elongation at break, both properties related to material cohesion. On the contrary, the stiffness increases with the HNTs content. The tensile strength and modulus change from 64.6 MPa/2.1 GPa (neat PLA) to 57.7/2.3 GPa MPa for the composite with 9 wt% HNTs. The elongation at break decreases from 6.1% (neat PLA) down to a half for composites with 9 wt% HNTs. Regarding flexural properties, the flexural strength and modulus change from 116.1 MPa and 3.6 GPa respectively for neat PLA to values of 107.6 MPa and 3.9 GPa for the composite with 9 wt% HNTs. HNTs do not affect the glass transition temperature with invariable values of about 64 °C, or the melt peak temperature, while they move the cold crystallization process towards lower values, from 112.4 °C for neat PLA down to 105.4 °C for the composite containing 9 wt% HNTs. The water uptake has been assessed to study the influence of HNTs on the water saturation. HNTs contribute to increased hydrophilicity with a change in the asymptotic water uptake from 0.95% (neat PLA) up to 1.67% (PLA with 9 wt % HNTs) and the effect of HNTs on disintegration in controlled compost soil has been carried out to see the influence of HNTs on this process, which is a slight delay on it. These PLA-HNT composites show good balanced properties and could represent an interesting solution to develop active materials.
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