Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 26, Issue 11, pp 4188–4200 | Cite as

Compatibilization Improves Performance of Biodegradable Biopolymer Composites Without Affecting UV Weathering Characteristics

  • Nikushi S. YatigalaEmail author
  • Dilpreet S. Bajwa
  • Sreekala G. Bajwa
Original Paper


With growing interest in the use of eco-friendly composite materials, biodegradable polymers and composites from renewable resources are gaining popularity for use in commercial applications. However, the long-term performance of these composites and the effect of compatibilization on their weathering characteristics are unknown. In this study, five types of biodegradable biopolymer/wood fiber (WF) composites were compatibilized with maleic anhydride (MA), and the effect of accelerated UV weathering on their performance was evaluated against composites without MA and neat biopolymers. The composite samples were prepared with 30 wt% wood fiber and one of the five biodegradable biobased polymer: poly(lactic) acid (PLA), polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV), Bioflex (PLA blend), or Solanyl (starch based). Neat and composite samples were UV weathered for 2000 h (hours), and characterized for morphological, physical, thermal, and mechanical properties before and after weathering. Compared to composites without MA, composites containing MA grafted polymers exhibited improved properties due to increased interfacial adhesion between the fiber and matrix. Upon accelerated weathering, thermal and mechanical properties of 70% of the samples substantially decreased. Surfaces of all the samples were roughened, and drastic color changes were observed. Water absorption of all the samples increased after weathering exposure. Even though the compatibilization is shown to improve composite properties before weathering, it did not affect weathering of samples, as there were no considerable differences in properties exhibited by the composites with MA and without MA after weathering. The results suggest that compatibilization improves properties of biodegradable biobased composites without affecting its UV degradation properties.


Biocomposites Accelerated weathering Biodegradable polymer Compatibilization Degradation 



The funding was provided by North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station (Grant No. FARG00300) and North Dakota NSF EPSCoR.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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