Biodegradable Carbon-based Ashes/Maize Starch Composite Films for Agricultural Applications
The aim of this work is the development and characterization of biodegradable thermoplastic recycled carbon ashes/maize starch (TPAS) composite films for agricultural applications. A proper plasticizer, that is, glycerol, was added to a commercial maize starch in an amount of 35 wt.%. Carbon-based ashes were produced by the biomass pyro-gasification plant CMD ECO 20, starting from lignocellulosic wastes. The ashes were added to glycerol and maize native starch at different amounts ranging from 7 wt. % to 21 wt.%. The composite was mixed at 130 &deg;C for 10 min and then molded. The effect of the different amounts of carbon based ashes on the thermal and physical-mechanical properties of the composite was assessed by using several techniques, such as rheology, wide- angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), moisture absorption, degradation and mechanical tests. The presence of the carbon waste ashes allows to improve thermal and durability performances of the thermoplastic starch (TPS) films. It reduces the water absorption of starch matrix and strongly decreases the deterioration of starch, independently from fillers amount, enhancing the lifetime of the TPS films in outdoor conditions. In addition, the waste carbon ashes/maize starch films present an advantage in comparison to those of neat starch; it can biodegrade, releasing the plant nutrients contained in the ashes into the soil. In conclusion, this approach for recycling carbon waste ashes increases the efficiency of industrial waste management, along with a reduction of its impact on the environment.