NC State
BioResources
Tan, B. K., Ching, Y. C., Gan, S. N., and Rozali, S. (2015). "Biodegradable mulches based on poly(vinyl alcohol), kenaf fiber, and urea," BioRes. 10(3), 5532-5543.

Abstract

This paper describes the preparation of poly(vinyl alcohol)/kenaf fiber (PVOH/KF) composites with entrapped urea. The major FTIR peaks of these composites could be identified. These composites are intended for agricultural applications as biodegradable mulches and could be potential carrier materials for fertilizer. The water solubility, release behavior, chemical properties, and thermal stability of the composites were evaluated. The composites lost 25% of their weight after 7 days in water. In a wet environment, urea was released from the composites through its dissolution in water, and around 57% of the urea was released from the composites in 24 h; Thermagravimetric analysis showed that these composites were stable up 150 °C. These composites would be able to withstand rain and protect seedlings from the sun when applied in the field as mulches. For around three to four weeks, these biobased mulches could slowly disintegrate as the PVOH binder was gradually dissolved by moisture, releasing the kenaf fibers to serve as soil fertilizer without leaving any undegradable waste for disposal. Hence, they would not pose any risks to the land or biological systems.
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