Commercially relevant water vapor barrier properties of high amylose starch acetates: Fact or fiction?, TAPPI Journal September 2021

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Author: Chinmay Satam, Ashok Ghosh, and Peter W. Hart
Commercially relevant water vapor barrier properties of high
ABSTRACT: Starches have recently regained attention as ecofriendly barrier materials due to the increased demand for sustainable packaging. They are easily processable by conventional plastics processing equipment and have been utilized for oil and grease barrier applications. While starches have excellent oxygen barrier properties and decent water barrier properties at low relative humidity (RH), they are moisture sensitive, as demonstrated by the deterioration of the barrier properties at higher RH values. Starch esters are chemically modified starches where the hydroxyl group of the starch has been substituted by other moieties such as acetates. This imparts hydrophobicity to starches and has been claimed as a good way of retaining water vapor barrier properties of starches, even at high RH conditions. We studied the water vapor barrier properties of one class of starch esters, i.e., high amylose starch acetates that were assumed to have good water vapor barrier properties. Our investigations found that with a high degree of substitution of hydroxyl groups, the modified starches did indeed show improvements in water vapor response as compared to pure high amylose starch films; however, the barrier properties were orders of magnitude lower than commercially used water vapor barriers like polyethylene. Even though these materials had improved water vapor barrier response, high amylose starch acetates are likely unsuitable as water vapor barriers by themselves, as implied by previous literature studies and patents.

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