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Study of a nanocomposite starch–clay for slow-release of herbicides: Evidence of synergistic effects between the biodegradable matrix and exfoliated clay on herbicide release control



In this article a nanocomposite based on starch gel, a renewable polymer, and montmorillonite clay (MMT) is proposed as a host system for the slow-delivery of a hydrophobic herbicide loaded in very high contents (50% in total weight), where the nanocomposite structure controls the release by imposing diffusional barriers to the active compound. The herbicide release rate in water showed that nanocomposites presented higher retentions than the neat samples (herbicide-loaded starch or MMT), revealing a cooperative or synergic effect between the constituents. Biodegradation essays also revealed this cooperative behavior, showing longer biodegradation periods for the nanocomposite than the pristine materials. Also, a two-step release was noticed, where the first step was controlled by starch (short periods) and the second was played by MMT (longer times). The nanocomposite structural analysis gave evidence that the release behavior is governed by the interaction between the constituents, even at very high herbicide contents. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 41188.