An accelerated hydrothermal degrading test was designed in order to analyse the synergic effect of water and temperature on PLA/sisal biocomposites with and without coupling agent. As well, the physico-chemical properties of biocomposites were monitored along the hydrothermal test by means of Scanning Electron Microscopy, Size Exclusion Chromatography and Differential Scanning Calorimetry. The addition of fibre induced higher water absorption capability and promoted physical degradation, as observed in the surface topography. During the processing of biocomposites and throughout the hydrothermal ageing, a reduction of molecular weight due to chain scission was found. As a consequence, a faster formation of crystalline domains in the PLA matrix occurred the higher the amount of fibre was, which acted as a nucleating agent. Higher crystallinity was considered as a barrier against the advance of penetrant and a reduction in the diffusion coefficient was shown. The addition of coupling agent presented a different influence depending on the composition, showing an inflection point around 20% of sisal fibre.
Gil-Castell, O., Badia, J. D., Kittikorn, T., Strömberg, E., Martínez-Felipe, A., Ek, M., … Ribes-Greus, A. (2014). Hydrothermal ageing of polylactide/sisal biocomposites. Studies of water absorption behaviour and Physico-Chemical performance. Polymer Degradation and Stability, 108, 212–222. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polymdegradstab.2014.06.010