The thermal, mechanical, and rheological properties of biocomposites of poly(lactic acid) (PLA) with potato pulp powder were investigated in order to (1) quantify how the addition of this filler modifies the structure of the polymeric material and (2) to obtain information on the possible miscibility and compatibility between PLA and the potato pulp. The potato pulp powder utilized is a residue of the processing for the production and extraction of starch. The study was conducted by analyzing the effect of the potato pulp concentration on the thermal, mechanical, and rheological properties of the biocomposites. The results showed that the potato pulp powder does not act as reinforcement but as filler for the PLA polymeric matrix. A progressive decrease in elastic modulus, tensile strength, and elongation at break was observed with increasing the potato pulp percentage. This moderate loss of mechanical properties, however, still meets the technical requirements indicated for the production of rigid packaging items. The incorporation of potato pulp powder to PLA offers the possibility to reduce the cost of the final products and promotes a circular economy approach for the valorization of agro-food waste biomass.
Keywords: bio-based polymers; biocomposites; biomass; fiber/matrix adhesion; natural fibers.