Table of Content

Open Access iconOpen Access


Oxidative Degradation of Thermoplastic Starch Induced by UV Radiation

Mayte M. Quispe1,*, Olivia V. López1, Marcelo A. Villar1,2

Planta Piloto de Ingeniería Química, PLAPIQUI (UNS CONICET), Bahía Blanca (8000), Argentina.
Departamento de Ingeniería Química, Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS), Bahía Blanca (8000), Argentina.

* Corresponding Author: Mayte M. Quispe. Email: email

Journal of Renewable Materials 2019, 7(4), 383-391.


Among biopolymers, thermoplastic starch (TPS) is a good candidate to obtain biomaterials because of its natural origin, biodegradable character, and processability. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes significant degradation of starch-based materials, inducing photooxidative reactions which result in breaking of polymer chains, production of free radical, and reduction of molar mass. These changes produce a deterioration of TPS mechanical properties, leading to useless materials after an unpredictable time. In this work, changes induced on TPS by UV radiation, analyzing structural properties and mechanical behavior, are studied. TPS was obtained through thermo-mechanical processing of native corn starch in the presence of water (45 % w/w) and glycerol (30 % w/w) as plasticizers. Films were obtained by thermocompression and, before testing, specimens were conditioned to reduce material fragility. Photodegradation process was performed by exposing TPS to 264 h UV radiation in a weathering test chamber. Specimen’s weight loss was determined gravimetrically. Chemical changes were studied by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and morphological modifications were analyzed by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Reduction of weight average molar mass was measured by Static Light Scattering (SLS). Changes in mechanical properties were studied from tensile tests. After 96 h exposure, TPS specimens presented a weight reduction of 4-6%, mainly attributed to plasticizers lost by evaporation. SEM observations showed that UV radiation induced morphological changes on TPS, evidenced by an increment of specimens cracking. By FTIR, it was detected the presence of an additional band located at 1726 cm-1 in samples submitted to UV radiation, attributed to the formation of -C=O groups. Weight average molar mass of native starch was in the order of 107 g mol-1. TPS exposure to UV radiation decreased significantly its molar mass, confirming molecular degradation of the biopolymer. When TPS was exposed during 48 h, it was detected a considerable decrease in elongation at break values (~ 85%), indicating that TPS flexibility was reduced. On the other hand, after 48 h exposure, TPS elastic modulus was 55 times higher than those of the unexposed specimens, evidencing an increase in material rigidity. TPS maximum tensile strength was also increased by UV light, with an increment of ~ 400% after 48 h exposure. Results revealed that starch-based materials can be degraded by exposure to UV radiation, modifying their microstructure and mechanical performance.


Cite This Article

Quispe, M. M., López, O. V., Villar, M. A. (2019). Oxidative Degradation of Thermoplastic Starch Induced by UV Radiation. Journal of Renewable Materials, 7(4), 383–391.


cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
  • 2052


  • 1124


  • 0


Share Link