Most recent developments in polymers from renewable resources have focused on thermoplastics, whereas there has been no comparable development of plastics with elastomeric properties. Here we evaluate the possibility of developing renewable elastomers based on starch. Potato starch plasticized with glycerol (called plas-ticized starch, or PLS) was melt-blended with small quantities (5 wt % or 15 wt%) of maleated polypropylene (MAPP). The maleic anhydride groups of the polypropylene are expected to react with the hydroxy groups of starch under melt blending conditions. The resulting blends of MAPP and PLS were characterized by mechanical testing, SEM, DMA, and DSC. SEM, solubility and adhesion tests indicate that the blends are two-phase materials, in which the continuous phase PLS is physically crosslinked by polypropylene domains. The materials showed rubbery properties as judged by a low glass transition temperature (∼-50°C independent of polypropylene content), and a wide rubbery plateau in DMA experiments that extended from room temperature to as high as 170°C. The tensile properties are also characteristic of elastomers. However, slow aging due to starch crystallization, and extraction of glycerol upon water exposure remain two challenges that must be overcome before the materials can be used as practical elastomers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry