Biocomposites Based on Plasticized Wheat Flours: Effect of Bran Content on Thermomechanical Behavior
In the present work, the effect of different bran content on the overall thermomechanical behavior of plasticized wheat flours (thermoplastic wheat flour; TPWF) was investigated. Refined flour (F0) with negligible bran fiber content, F1 flour (whole grain flour, 20% wt. bran), F3 (50% wt. bran) and F2 (F1:F3, 50:50) film samples were realized by extrusion process. The effect of TPWF blending with two different biopolymers (polycaprolactone and poly butyrate adipate terephthalate), combined with the presence of citric acid as compatibilizer was also considered. Results from FESEM analysis and tensile characterization demonstrated that PCL was able to reach improved compatibility with the plasticized flour fraction at intermediate bran content (F2 based formulation) when 25% wt. of biopolymeric phase was added. Additionally, it was proved that improvements can be achieved in both thermal and mechanical performance when higher shear rate (120 rpm) and low temperature profiles (Tset2 = 130&ndash;135&ndash;140 &deg;C) are selected. Disintegrability of the TPWF basic formulations in compositing conditions within 21 days was also confirmed; at the same time, an absence of any phytotoxic event of compost itself was registered. The obtained results confirmed the suitability of these materials, realized by adding different bran contents, to mechanically compete with bioplastics obtained by using purified starches.