Cereals pp 35-41 | Cite as

Biodegradable Composites of Starch and Poly(Hydroxybutyrate-Co-Valerate) Copolymers

  • J. L. Willett
  • G. S. O’Brien


The use of starch in biodegradable plastics applications has received considerable attention in recent years. Its low cost makes it an attractive filler for high-cost biodegradable polymers which compete with commodity polymers such as polyethylene and polystyrene in disposable, one-use applications such as cutlery, cups, and food trays. The US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service has conducted research in starch utilization in plastics for many years. Recently, there has been interest in utilizing starch in composites with poly(hydroxybutyrate-valerate) copolymers (PHBV). PHBV copolymers are produced via fermentation of agricultural feedstocks by microorganisms such as Alcaligenes eutrophus. These biodegradable, thermoplastic polyesters have been produced and marketed under the trade name Biopol by Zeneca Bioproducts. Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between Zeneca and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, composites of PHBV with starch and other environmentally benign materials have been developed with a wide range of properties. This paper discusses the effects of composition variables on the mechanical properties and biodegradation of these materials.


Activate Sludge Starch Granule Inorganic Filler Glycidyl Methacrylate Ceric Ammonium Nitrate 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Willett
    • 1
  • G. S. O’Brien
    • 2
  1. 1.National Center for Agricultural Utilization ResearchUSDA-ARSPeoriaUSA
  2. 2.Zeneca BiopolymersWilmingtonUSA

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