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Biomacromolecules. 2004 Sep-Oct;5(5):1678-86.

Lignin incorporation combined with electron-beam irradiation improves the surface water resistance of starch films.

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UMR Chimie Biologique, INRA/INA PG, 78850 Thiverval-Grignon, France.


We investigated the potential of an electron-beam post-treatment to tailor the properties of 70/30 and 80/20 wt. extruded starch-lignin films. The effect of a 400 kGy radiation on films differing essentially by the kind of lignins incorporated (lignosulfonates/alkali lignins) was assessed both at the macroscopic and the molecular levels. Changes in the polymer molecular structure were studied by IR spectroscopy, by thioacidolysis as well as by model compound experiments. Electron beam-irradiation at 400 kGy, a rather high dose for processing natural polymers, alters to some extent the mechanical resistance of the starch-based materials. However this treatment substantially reduces the hydrophilic surface properties of the films, while not harming their biodegradability. Involved in radical cross-coupling reactions, lignin phenolic compounds are likely to play a primary role in the formation of a hydrophobic condensed network. This study suggests that lower irradiation doses might yield biomaterials with improved usage properties.

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