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Open AccessArticle

Effect of Natural Rubber in Polyethylene Composites on Morphology, Mechanical Properties and Biodegradability

1
Scientific Laboratory “Advanced Composite Materials and Technologies”, Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, 36 Stremyanny per., 117997 Moscow, Russia
2
Department of Biological and Chemical Physics of Polymers, Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, 4 Kosygina str., 119334 Moscow, Russia
3
Biología Molecular y Bioquímica, Universidad de Malaga, 2 Cervantes str., 29071 Malaga, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Polymers 2020, 12(2), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12020437
Received: 28 December 2019 / Revised: 3 February 2020 / Accepted: 7 February 2020 / Published: 13 February 2020
Compounding natural additives with synthetic polymers allows developing more eco-friendly materials with enhanced biodegradability. The composite films based on low-density polyethylene (PE) with different content of natural rubber (NR) (10–30 wt%) were investigated. The influence of NR content on structural features, water absorption and mechanical properties of the composites were studied. The 70PE/30NR composite is characterized by the uniform distribution and the smallest size of NR domains (45 ± 5 μm). A tensile test was satisfied by the mechanical properties of the biocomposites, caused by elasticity of NR domains. The tensile strength of 70PE/30NR composite film is 5 ± 0.25 MPa. Higher water absorption of PE/NR composites (1.5–3.7 wt%) compared to neat PE facilitates penetrating vital activity products of microorganisms. Mycological test with mold fungi and full-scale soil test detected the composite with 30 wt% of NR as the most biodegradable (mass loss was 7.2 wt% for 90 days). According to infrared spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry analysis, NR consumption and PE structural changes in the biocomposites after exposure to soil occurred. The PE/NR composites with enhanced biodegradability as well as satisfied mechanical and technological properties have potential applications in packaging and agricultural films.
Keywords: packaging material; bio-based polymer composite; polyethylene; natural rubber; water absorption; mycological test; biodegradability; mechanical properties packaging material; bio-based polymer composite; polyethylene; natural rubber; water absorption; mycological test; biodegradability; mechanical properties
MDPI and ACS Style

Mastalygina, E.; Varyan, I.; Kolesnikova, N.; Gonzalez, M.I.C.; Popov, A. Effect of Natural Rubber in Polyethylene Composites on Morphology, Mechanical Properties and Biodegradability. Polymers 2020, 12, 437.

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