Environmental degradation is a summary of all those degradation factors that can decrease the life-time of polymeric materials outdoors. Chemical, physical, mechanical and biological factors have an impact on the materials and the degradation may occur quickly or at a rather slow pace.
In many cases the degradation factors are effective synergistically or even consecutive. Usually chemical, physical and mechanical factors enable a later biodegradation where biofilms are particular notorious to appear on nearly every surface. Biofilm forms when bacteria adhere to surfaces in aqueous environment and begin to excrete a slimy, glue-like substance that can anchor them to all kinds of material – such as metals, plastics, soil particles, medical implant materials, and tissue. Composites, consisting of synthetic or biodegradable polymeric matrix and natural fibres as reinforcement have been successfully applied in various applications: automotive, packaging, construction, etc. Natural fibres present a series of advantages such as low density, high specific strength and modulus, renewable and biodegradable characteristics, and reasonable processibility at low cost.
The presentation will address results from ongoing studies conducted in order to compare how both bio- and nancomposite materials are affected by the environment. The materials were subjected to photo-oxidation, hydrolysis, thermal oxidation and a microorganism environment in order to simulate the environments that the products might be exposed to. The focus of these studies was to investigate chemical-, physical- and mechanical property changes as well as emissions of particles, applying various analytical techniques.
Polymer Processing Society 24th annual meeting (PPS-24). Salerno, Italy. June 15-19 2008