Authors: J. Luecha, N. Sozer, J.L. Kokini
Affilation: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, United States
Pages: 788 - 791
Keywords: nanoclay, biodegradable packaging, zein
The waste of petroleum-based packaging materials has become the worldwide major environmental concern. Therefore, the biodegradable materials derived from renewable resources have become under spot light as a potential approach to reduce the packaging material waste problems. Zein, a protein found in corn, is one of the potential bio-based materials which have been studied extensively. Like other biopolymers, corn zein films have poorer mechanical and barrier properties in comparison with other petroleum-based films. To improve zein film properties, the polymer nanoclay nanocomposite technique was introduced to zein film preparation. It is important to understand the interaction between zein and nanoclay in the resin form in order to design the proper fabrication procedure. The objectives of this study were to understand the interaction of zein-nanoclay mixture in the resin form by characterizing the physical properties including extensional rheology of the hybrid resin. It was found that the nanoclay was delaminated and dispersed within the zein matrix as shown in the TEM image. The nanoclay content dramatically influenced the extensibility and elasticity of zein resin. This can be useful for adjusting the blown extrusion process such as increasing the nanoclay inclusion in films to improve mechanical and film barrier properties. The incorporation of nanoclay within the biopolymer matrix provided a novel pathway to engineer mechanically durable and biodegradable packaging films.