Thermal pretreatment of kudzu biomass (pueraria lobata) as filler in cost-effective pla biocomposite fabrication process



This article aims on the fabrication of cost-effective polylactic acid (PLA) biocomposites using kudzu biomass derivatives as new filler. In this way, it has been realized that pretreatment of the filler was an essential requirement. We demonstrated thermal pyrolysis process that targeted to extraction and isolation of all extractable and unnecessary compounds such as intracellular water and bio-oil from the biomass. Also, to further improve the compatibility of the filler with PLA, noncatalytic thermal esterification reactions of kudzu after thermal pyrolysis (called char) were carried out as second pretreatment stage in the presence of phthalic anhydride. Kudzu derivatives obtained from either first or second pretreatment reactions were melt-blended with PLA in various rates. The blends were then compression molded into dumbbell specimens. Physicomechanical properties of the prepared biocomposites were evaluated using several analytical techniques. It was found that biocomposites containing treated biomass had higher values of physicomechanical properties than untreated ones. The final rate of filler to PLA with acceptable properties was set up to 50%. Obviously, the cost of PLA can be reduced using higher rates of low-cost filler on a finished-product basis. Extracted valuable compounds from biomass via thermal pyrolysis could be another benefit of the process. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 55:340–348, 2015. © 2014 Society of Plastics Engineers