BACKGROUND: The valorization of renewable agro-industrial residues and their further utilization for production of polymers and polymer additives is a highly attractive alternative for replacement of oil-based materials.
RESULTS: Liquefied wood flour and rice bran derived esters were synthesized and evaluated as novel green plasticizers for polylactide (PLA). The liquefied wood flour ester (PWF) showed good miscibility with PLA and good plasticization efficiency as shown by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and tensile testing. Tensile strain at break increased from a few percent for pure PLA to over 100 and 300% for the materials containing 10 and 30 wt-% of PWF. The addition of PWF accelerated the hydrolysis rate of PLA as shown by faster weight loss during aging in water and faster formation of water-soluble lactic acid oligomers, which was shown by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) analysis of the migrants. The liquefied rice bran based product (PRB) was not miscible with PLA and it did not improve the elongation at break of PLA. Rice bran is generally rich in arabinoxylans with only secondary less reactive alcohol groups. The larger number of un-reacted hydroxyl-groups in PRB was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and could explain the immiscibility with PLA.
CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate that the synthesized liquefied wood flour derived plasticizer could have great potential as a biobased polylactide plasticizer. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry