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Preparation and characterization of starch-based loose-fill packaging foams

Qi Fang, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Regular and waxy corn starches were blended in various ratios with biodegradable polymers including polylactic acid (PLA), Eastar Bio Copolyester 14766 (EBC) and Mater-Bi ZF03U (MBI) and extruded with a C. W. Brabender laboratory twin screw extruder using a 3-mm die nozzle at 150°C and 150 rev/min. Physical characteristics including radial expansion, unit density and bulk density and water solubility index, water absorption characteristics, mechanical properties including compressibility, Young's modulus, spring index, bulk compressibility and bulk spring index and abrasion resistance were investigated as affected by the ingredient formulations, i.e. type of polymers, type of starches, polymer to starch ratio and starch moisture content. A completely randomized factorial blocking experimental design was used. Fifty-four treatments resulted. Each treatment was replicated three times. SAS statistical software package was used to analyze the data. ^ Foams made of waxy starch had better radial expansion, lower unit density and bulk density than did foams made of regular starch. Regular starch foams had significantly lower water solubility index than did the waxy starch foams. PLA-starch foams had the lowest compressibility and Young's modulus. MBI-starch foams were the most rigid. All foams had excellent spring indices and bulk spring indices which were comparable to the spring index of commercial expanded polystyrene foam. ^ Correlations were established between the foam mechanical properties and the physical characteristics. Foam compressibility and Young's modulus decreased as increases in radial expansion and decreases in unit and bulk densities. Their relationships were modeled with power law equations. No correlation was observed between spring index and bulk spring index and foam physical characteristics. ^ MBI-starch foams had the highest equilibrium moisture content. EBC-starch and PLA-starch foams had similar water absorption characteristics. No significant difference existed in water absorption characteristics between foams made of regular and waxy starches. Empirical models were developed to correlate foam water absorption characteristics with relative humidity and polymer content. The developed models fit the data well with relatively small standard errors and uniformly scattered residual plots. ^ Foams with higher polymer content had better abrasion resistance than did foams with lower polymer content. ^

Subject Area

Chemistry, Polymer|Engineering, Materials Science

Recommended Citation

Fang, Qi, "Preparation and characterization of starch-based loose-fill packaging foams" (1999). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9929198.