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Biodegradable Composites

  1. Ernesto Di Maio,
  2. Salvatore Iannace

Published Online: 20 JUL 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118097298.weoc013

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

How to Cite

Di Maio, E. and Iannace, S. 2012. Biodegradable Composites. Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites. 1–18.

Author Information

  1. University of Naples Federico II & Institute of Composite and Biomedical Materials, Naples, Italy

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 JUL 2012


Biodegradable composites based on biodegradable polymeric matrices and natural reinforcements are reported in this article. Biodegradable polymers can be classified as biosynthetic, semibiosynthetic (produced from biomass or by microorganisms), or chemosynthetic depending on their manner of preparation. At present, the most important biosynthetic polymers from an overall market perspective are the polylactic acids (PLAs), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), starch and starch blends, and cellulose derivatives. Synthetically derived biodegradable polymers include polyesters [e.g., polycaprolactone (PCL)] and other copolyesters.

Combination of natural fibers such as kenaf, industrial hemp, flax, jute, henequen, pineapple leaf fiber, sisal, wood, and various grasses with the biodegradable polymer matrices mentioned above allows the preparation of biodegradable composites with a wide range of costs and performances. Biodegradable composites have already gained some market shares because of their properties and also to legislation that is forcing industries to use bio-based materials such as in automotive and packaging.

In the context of the process design, it is important to consider the peculiarities of this class of materials: the high moist content, the heat sensitivity of the matrices and fibers, and the fibrillar nature of the fibers. As a consequence, biodegradable composite processing requires a compromise among available techniques from textile and plastic processing and hybrid, innovative technologies that are still under development.


  • biodegradation;
  • composites;
  • natural fibers;
  • biodegradable polymer;
  • green composites