Properties of Starch Based Foams Made by Thermal Pressure Forming

J. Štancl, J. Skočilas, J. Šesták, R. Žitný


Packaging materials based on expanded polystyrene can be substituted by biodegradable foam, manufactured by direct or indirect electrical heating of a potato starch suspension in a closed mold. This paper deals with an experimental evaluation of selected properties of potato starch and starch foam related to this technology: density, specific heat capacity and specific electrical conductivity of a water suspension of potato starch within the temperature range up to 100 °C, and mass fraction from 5 to 65 %. The electric conductivity and heat capacity changes were observed during direct ohmic heating of a starch suspension between electrodes in a closed cell (feeding voltage 100 V, frequency 50 Hz). Specific electric conductivity increases with temperature, with the exception of the gelatinization region at 60 to 70 °C, and decreases with increasing concentration of starch (the temperature and concentration dependencies were approximated using the Lorentz equation). Direct ohmic heating is restricted by a significant decrease in effective electrical conductivity above a temperature of 100 °C, when evaporated steam worsens the contact with the electrodes. Experiments show that when direct ohmic heating is not combined with indirect contact heating, only 20 % of the water can be evaporated from manufactured samples and the starch foam is not fully formed. This is manifested by only a slight expansion of the heated sample. Only the indirect contact heating from the walls of the mold, with the wall temperature above 180 °C, forms a fixed porous structure (expansion of about 300 %) and a crust, ensuring suitable mechanical and thermal insulation properties of the manufactured product. The effective thermal conductivity of the foamed product (sandwich plates with a porous core and a compact crust) was determined by the heated wire method, while the porosity of the foam and the thickness of the crust were evaluated by image analysis of colored cross sections of manufactured samples. While the porosity is almost constant, the thickness of the crust is approximately proportional to the thickness of the plate.


starch; starch suspension; starch foam; direct ohmic heating; indirect heating; electric conductivity of a starch suspension

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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague