Understanding the Effects of Adding Metal Oxides to Polylactic Acid and Polylactic Acid Blends on Mechanical and Rheological Behaviour, Wettability, and Photo-Oxidation Resistance

Polymers (Basel). 2024 Mar 27;16(7):922. doi: 10.3390/polym16070922.


Biopolymers are of growing interest, but to improve some of their poor properties and performance, the formulation of bio-based blends and/or adding of nanoparticles is required. For this purpose, in this work, two different metal oxides, namely zinc oxide (ZnO) and titanium dioxide (TiO2), at different concentrations (0.5, 1, and 2%wt.) were added in polylactic acid (PLA) and polylactic acid/polyamide 11 (PLA/PA11) blends to establish their effects on solid-state properties, morphology, melt behaviour, and photo-oxidation resistance. It seems that the addition of ZnO in PLA leads to a significant reduction in its rigidity, probably due to an inefficient dispersion in the melt state, while the addition of TiO2 does not penalize PLA rigidity. Interestingly, the addition of both ZnO and TiO2 in the PLA/PA11 blend has a positive effect on the rigidity because of blend morphology refinement and leads to a slight increase in film hydrophobicity. The photo-oxidation resistance of the neat PLA and PLA/PA11 blend is significantly reduced due to the presence of both metal oxides, and this must be considered when designing potential applications. The last results suggest that both metal oxides could be considered photo-sensitive degradant agents for biopolymer and biopolymer blends.

Keywords: biopolymer blends; biopolymers; metal oxides; morphology refinement; photo-sensitive degradant agents.

Grants and funding

This work has been financially supported by MIUR—Italy (Ministry of Education, University and Research of Italy), Grant: CLEAN—PRIN-20174FSRZS and H2020-EU. project “Plastic in Agricultural Production: Impacts, Lifecycles and Long-term sustainability—PAPILLONS” grant agreement ID: 101000210. The APC was funded by N.Tz. Dintcheva.