Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Blends of polyvinylalcohol and functionalised polycaprolactone

In recent years our research was addressed to biodegradable polymers to be applied in agriculture as a substitution for classical non-biodegradable plastics. Starch-based blends, aliphatic polyesters, vinyl alcohol polymers are most successful examples. To apply them in agriculture, it is necessary to tailor their mechanical properties, optical behaviour and biodegradation time according to the different specific usage, i.e. in open field or under tunnels, in summer or winter climates, just to mention two most important variables. Among the above mentioned polymers, Polyvinylalcohol (PVOH) has attracted our attention as it is a polymer that, upon plasticisation, can be melt processed to form clear, tough films. It is the only known C-C main chain polymer to be biodegradable through an enzymatic pathway that is highly accelerated by its water sensitivity. On the contrary, if PVOH is cross-linked with aldehydes, it becomes resistant to biodegradation. In our approach, we are investigating the cross-linking of PVOH through the formation of biodegradable bridges made of functionalised polycaprolactone (PCL). The x-linked polymers are obtained in the shape of films, and are water resistant and long lasting, as far as they are used. Upon soil burial, micro organisms attack the PCL bridges leaving the uncrosslinked PVOH which can be readily assimilated.

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Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
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