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New Developments in Biodegradable Starch-based Nanocomposites

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This contribution outlines the new developments in thermoplastic starch-based (nano)composites useful for more specific applications compatible with our environment, partially based on our ongoing research over the past few years. Accordingly, melt-intercalating starch macromomolecules into layered silicates (e.g., natural clays) has proved to be an efficient way for preparation of thermoplastic starch-layered silicate nanocomposites with interesting thermo-mechanical properties, as well as improved solvent-resistance. Cellulosic (nano)whiskers were also added as another environmentally benign (nano)filler in starch-based compositions. The design of such thermoplastic starch-based (nano)composites with enhanced properties relies upon the control over the phase behavior and morphology of the nanofiller within the matrix by more defined interfacial compatibility as well as by fine tuning of processing parameters. A special emphasis was also given to the introduction of layered silicates (nano)filler in biodegradable melt-blends made of hydrophilic thermoplastic starch and hydrophobic biodegradable polyesters as a valuable way to increase the compatibility between the two polymeric partners.

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Most cited references 47

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Biofibres, biodegradable polymers and biocomposites: An overview

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Polymer-layered silicate nanocomposites: preparation, properties and uses of a new class of materials

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Polyhydroxyalkanoates: an overview.

Polyhydroxyalkanoates have gained major importance due to their structural diversity and close analogy to plastics. These are gaining more and more importance world over. Different sources (natural isolates, recombinant bacteria, plants) and other methods are being investigated to exert more control over the quality, quantity and economics of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) production. Their biodegradability makes them extremely desirable substitutes for synthetic plastics. The PHB biosynthetic genes phbA, phbB and phbC are clustered and organized in one phbCAB operon. The PHB pathway is highly divergent in the bacterial genera with regard to orientation and clustering of genes involved. Inspite of this the enzymes display a high degree of sequence conservation. But how similar are the mechanisms of regulation of these divergent operons is as yet unknown. Structural studies will further improve our understanding of the mechanism of action of these enzymes and aid us in improving and selecting better candidates for increased production. Metabolic engineering thereafter promises to bring a feasible solution for the production of "green plastic".

Author and article information

1 Center of Innovation and Research in Materials & Polymers (CIRMAP), Laboratory of Polymer and Composite Materials, University of Mons-Hainaut/Materia Nova, Mons, Belgium
2 Department of Chemical Engineering & Material Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
3 Ecoles des Mines de Douai, Douai, France
Author notes
Mail address: Philippe Dubois, Center of Innovation and Research in Materials & Polymers (CIRMAP), Laboratory of Polymer and Composite Materials, University of Mons-Hainaut/Materia Nova, Place du Parc 20, B-7000 Mons, Belgium. E-mail:
International Polymer Processing
Carl Hanser Verlag
: 22
: 5
: 463-470
© 2007, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich
References: 53, Pages: 8
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