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Eco-friendly films prepared from plantain flour/PCL blends under reactive extrusion conditions using zirconium octanoate as a catalyst

Gutiérrez, Tomy J., Alvarez, Vera A.
Carbohydrate polymers 2017 v.178 pp. 260-269
Escherichia coli O157, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Musa, Staphylococcus aureus, X-ray diffraction, antimicrobial properties, catalysts, composite polymers, crosslinking, differential scanning calorimetry, extrusion, flour, glycerol, hydrophobicity, mechanical properties, mixing, molecular weight, plasticizers, thermogravimetry, water solubility
Plantain flour (Musa ssp., group AAB, sub-group clone Harton)/poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) blends, containing glycerol as a plasticizer, were prepared by reactive extrusion (REx) in a twin-screw extruder using zirconium octanoate (Zr(Oct)4) as a catalyst, followed by thermo-compression molding for film development. The films were then characterized in terms of their: infrared (FTIR) spectra, water solubility, thermogravimetric (TGA) curves, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) thermograms, and X-ray diffraction (XDR) diffractograms, as well as their microstructural, mechanical and antimicrobial properties in order to (1) compare the effects of PCLs with two different molecular weights (Mw) on the characteristics of the plantain flour/PCL blends, and (2) determine whether using Zr(Oct)4 in the production of active composite polymer materials improves their properties. The plantain flour/PCL blends were all developed successfully. The higher Mw PCL gave more hydrophobic and thermally stable films with improved mechanical properties. The addition of the Zr(Oct)4 catalyst to the plantain flour/PCL blends also resulted in films with similar characteristics to those described above, due to the cross-linking of the polymers. In addition, the films containing the catalyst showed antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Staphylococcus aureus indicating a dual effect of Zr(Oct)4, and making it an attractive alternative for the development of active films.