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THERMOMECHANICAL PERFORMANCE OF POLYMERIC BLENDS AND COMPOSITES FORMULATED WITH BIODEGRADABLE COMPONENTS
A biodegradable copolyester is utilized here to blend it with Poly (lactic acid) (PLA) which acts as polymer matrix, and to formulate a wood-like composite with agave fibers (AF) that are used as reinforcement. Additionally, a commercial maleinized rosin with two different levels of acidity (containing different number of polar groups in their structure) was used as coupling/compatibilizing agent (Amberyl M-15A/Amberyl MP-30), trying to improve the interaction between the polymers and AF for the composites, or to compatibilize polymer blends. To prepare the blends (without AF) and the composites using biodegradable components only, poly (butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT), Amberyl M-15A/Amberyl MP-30 and AF were mixed with PLA by twin screw extrusion. The toughness improvement by the inclusion of PBAT was evaluated by tensile measurements. Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), allowed thermomechanical performance evaluation for a wide temperature range, and differential scanning calorimetry was carried out to evaluate thermal transitions of the components. The interaction between blend components and composites was followed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and the different morphologies were observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). A normed biodegradation test by composting was done in an oven to test the polymeric materials biodegradability. Chemical interaction between the polymers in the blend and the fibers and the polymers for the composites, promoted an increase in moduli for both types of polymeric systems. Micrographs of the blends and composites allowed the observation of the changes produced (i.e.: blends surface, dispersed phase domain size or type of rupture) by the addition of the maleinized rosin.