Biobased Additives as Biodegradability Enhancers with Application in TPU-Based Footwear Components
Among the wide variety of materials employed in the manufacture of shoes, thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) are one of the most widely used. Given its widespread use, and associated waste management problems, the development of more biodegradable and evironmentally compatible solutions is needed. In this work, a polyester-based TPU used in the footwear industry for outsoles production was modified by compounding with lignin, starch and cellulose at content of 4% (w/w). The biodegradability was evaluated by using agar plate tests with the fungi Aspergillus niger ATCC16404, the Gram-negative bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC9027 and an association of both (consortium), and soil tests at 37 °C and 58 °C. The obtained results evidenced a positive effect of the tested biobased additives, the most favourable results being registered with lignin. These results were corroborated by the structural modifications observed by FTIR analysis. Additionally, mechanical tests prove the suitability of using the lignin modified TPUs for footwear outsoles production.
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