Evaluation of the biodegradability of polyvinyl alcohol/starch blends: A methodological comparison of environmentally friendly materials

Wan Lan Chai, Jing Dong Chow, Chien Chung Chen, Fu Sheng Chuang, Wei Chuan Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and starch are both biodegradable polymers. These two polymers can be prepared as biodegradable plastics that are emerging as one of the environmental friendly materials available now. In this study, after reacting with sodium trimetaphosphate (STMP), modified corn starch was blended with PVA in different ratios by a barbender. Test samples were prepared for mechanical and thermal properties measurements. The surface roughness and morphology of fractured surface of the samples were observed by an atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscope (SEM) measurements. Aqueous degradation by enzyme, water absorption and biodegradability behavior were evaluated for the degradability. The biodegradability of these materials was followed by bio-reactivity kinetics models. Results showed that the addition of modified starch could enhance its water uptake. With an addition of 20 wt% of modified starch, the blend had a maximum weight loss during enzymatic degradation. It was found that the degradability was enhanced with the addition of the starch. Analyzing the results of the biodegradability based on the kinetic models, the growth rate of the microorganism was found to be increasing with the increase of the content of starch in the PVA/starch blends in the first order reaction fashion. In our biodegradability analysis, i.e., based on the China national standards (CNS) 14432 regulations, we estimated the decomposition behavior based on the mentioned first order reaction. We found that the PVA/starch blends would take 32.47, 16.20 and 12.47 years to degrade by 70% as their starch content 0, 20 and 40 wt%, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-82
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Polymers and the Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • Biodegradability
  • Polyvinyl alcohol
  • Starch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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