Biopo-lybutylene succinate (bioPBS) is gaining attention in the biodegradable polymer market due to its promising properties, such as high biodegradability and processing versatility, representing a potential sustainable replacement for fossil-based commodities. However, there is still a need to enhance its properties for certain applications, with aesthetical and mechanical properties being a challenge. The aim of the present work is to improve these properties by adding selected additives that will confer bioPBS with comparable properties to that of current counterparts such as polypropylene (PP) for specific applications in the automotive and household appliances sectors. A total of thirteen materials have been studied and compared, being twelve biocomposites containing combinations of three different additives: a commercial red colorant, itaconic acid (IA) to enhance color fixation and zirconia (ZrO2) nanoparticles to maintain at least native PBS mechanical properties. The results show that the combination of IA and the coloring agent tends to slightly yellowish the blend due to the absorbance spectra of IA and also to modify the gloss due to the formation of IA nanocrystals that affects light scattering. In addition, for low amounts of IA (4 wt %), Young's Modulus seems to be kept while elongation at break is even raised. Unexpectedly, a strong aging affect was found after four weeks. IA increases the hydrophilic behavior of the samples and thus seems to accelerate the hydrolization of the matrix, which is accompanied by an accused disaggregation of phases and an overall softening and rigidization effect. The addition of low amounts of ZrO2 (2 wt %) seems to provide the desired effect for hardening the surface while almost not affecting the other properties; however, higher amounts tends to form aggregates saturating the compounds. As a conclusion, IA might be a good candidate for color fixing in biobased polymers.
Keywords: aging effect; biocomposites; biopolymers; color fixing; colorant; gloss; hardness; itaconic acid; polybutylene succinate; zirconium oxide.