Studies on poly(lactic acid) based microcellular biocomposite foams

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Development of polymeric foams evolved as major research area due to its unique exclusive properties like lightweight, low density and optimum usage of polymeric materials compared to non-foamed counterparts. However, degradability is a major area of concern for petro-based polymeric foams. The ultimate disposal and environmental aspects of the non-degradable foams leads to the development of bio-based and biodegradable green foams. Major developed biodegradable foam mainly includes starch-based foams, polycaprolactone (PCL) foams, water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) and ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) foam. The applications of these sustainable foams are mainly limited to multilayer packaging applications due to the limitations of oxygen barrier, mechanical properties etc. The improvement in above properties of these foams is a major concern of current research. One of the most promising biodegradable polymers is poly(lactic acid) (PLA) due to its greener routes and comparable properties with some of the conventional petro-based polymers like polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP) etc. However, improvement in the properties of PLA-based foams are still lacking in order to substitute the non-degradable foams. The improvement of properties of PLA-based foams can be achieved by incorporation of additives, flame retardants, plasticizers, and so on according to the targeted application. The use of bio-derived nanobiofillers for the improvement of above properties of PLA-based foam provides a greener approach towards the environment point of view. The nanofillers are derived from bio-feedstock that are abundantly available in nature. Therefore, the utilization of these nanobiofillers in PLA foam matrix has both economic and environmental impact. The incorporation of nanobiofillers in the PLA matrix for tailoring various properties is still a growing field of the research.
Supervisor: Vimal Katiyar