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The main concerns of PLA apart from its price are its poor thermal resistance and limited gas barrier properties, which prevent its complete access to industrial sectors such as packaging. Even though there are many limitations, these challenges are expected to be overcome during the course of ECLIPSE by fully exploiting the advantages of micro and nanocomposites.

Nanotechnology can improve material properties at much lower added quantities (2-8 wt %). By adding appropriate nanoparticles it will be possible to produce packaging goods with stronger mechanical, barrier and thermal performances.

Among the nanomaterials investigated, functional inorganic fillers such as layered silicate clays have been studied in the greatest detail by researchers from both academia and industry, due to their ability to dramatically improve material properties including mechanical and flexural properties, elevated heat distortion temperature, enhanced barrier properties and controlled biodegradation.

Apart from nanoclays, in the last decade there has been a growing interest in using polysaccharide-based nanofillers such as cellulose and chitin, as efficient reinforcing materials. They also improve the toughness, thermal stability and barrier properties of polymers.

In addition, ECLIPSE will investigate novel exfoliation techniques and functionalization chemistries in order to achieve perfect dispersion of the nanomaterials in the PLA matrix which is crucial for exploiting the full potential of the reinforce component.

To sum up ECLIPSE will investigate the synergistic association between functionalized PSN and FIF coupled with novel exfoliation techniques and functionalization chemistries, to enable significant improvement of PLA properties that will allow its use in novel packaging applications such as agricultural bags.