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Biodegradable Thermoplastic Composites Based on Polyvinyl Alcohol and Algae

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journal contribution
posted on 10.03.2008, 00:00 by Emo Chiellini, Patrizia Cinelli, Vassilka I. Ilieva, Martina Martera
Algae constitute a largely available, low value material from renewable resources of marine origin to be used for the production of eco-compatible composites. Fibers of the green alga Ulva armoricana from the French coast were positively evaluated for the production of composites with a hydrophilic, eco-compatible polymer, such as poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) as continuous matrix by casting of aqueous suspensions and compression molding. PVA, Ulva, and starch were also successfully processed by the melt in the presence of glycerol. Positive results were obtained for film-forming properties and mechanical characteristics also with limited amounts of PVA (40%) attesting for Ulva suitability to be introduced in composites (up to 30%). Degradation in soil of Ulva and an Ulva-based composites outlined a rapid mineralization of Ulva in the selected medium (over 80% in 100 days) while the composite samples underwent a mineralization rate affected by the different component propensity to degradation.