In Situ Compatibilization of Biopolymer Ternary Blends by Reactive Extrusion with Low-Functionality Epoxy-Based Styrene–Acrylic Oligomer
The present study reports on the use of low-functionality epoxy-based styrene–acrylic oligomer (ESAO) to compatibilize immiscible ternary blends made of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV), polylactide (PLA), and poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT). The addition during melt processing of low-functionality ESAO at two parts per hundred resin (phr) of biopolymer successfully changed the soften inclusion phase in the blend system to a thinner morphology, yielding biopolymer ternary blends with higher mechanical ductility and also improved oxygen barrier performance. The compatibilization achieved was ascribed to the in situ formation of a newly block terpolymer, i.e. PHBV-b-PLA-b-PBAT, which was produced at the blend interface by the reaction of the multiple epoxy groups present in ESAO with the functional terminal groups of the biopolymers. This chemical reaction was mainly linear due to the inherently low functionality of ESAO and the more favorable reactivity of the epoxy groups with the carboxyl groups of the biopolymers, which avoided the formation of highly branched and/or cross-linked structures and thus facilitated the films processability. Therefore, the reactive blending of biopolymers at different mixing ratios with low-functionality ESAO represents a straightforward methodology to prepare sustainable plastics at industrial scale with different physical properties that can be of interest in, for instance, food packaging applications.
KeywordsPHBV PLA PBAT Reactive extrusion Biopolymer blends
This research was funded by the EU H2020 project YPACK (Reference number 773872) and by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities (MICIU) with project numbers MAT2017-84909-C2-2-R and AGL2015-63855-C2-1-R. L. Quiles-Carrillo wants to thank the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports (MECD) for financial support through his FPU Grant Number FPU15/03812. Torres-Giner also acknowledges the MICIU for his Juan de la Cierva contract (IJCI-2016-29675).
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