Effect of Olefin-based Compatibilizers on the Formation of Cocontinuous Structure in Immiscible HDPE/iPP Blends


In this work, the formation of cocontinuous structure in immiscible high density polyethylene/isotactic polypropylene (HDPE/iPP) blends was investigated for various olefin-based compatibilizers of distinct molecular architectures, including ternary random copolymer EPDM, olefin block copolymer (OBC), polypropylene-based OBC (PP-OBC), ethylene/a-olefin copolymer (POE), bottlebrush polymer poly(1-dodecene), and comb-like poly(propylene-co-high a-olefin) (PPO). The scanning electron microscopy results show that after adding OBC, PP-OBC, and POE copolymers, the finer droplet-in-matrix morphologies were obtained in 70/30 HDPE/iPP blend. Interestingly, for 70/30 HDPE/iPP blend with just 5 wt% of PPO copolymers, the phase inversion from droplet-in-matrix to cocontinuous morphology can be observed. It was proposed that the development of cocontinuous morphology contained the following steps: (1) interfacial saturation of compatibilizers and droplet deformation, (2) droplet-droplet coalescence, (3) continuity development, and (4) the formation of dual-phase continuity. Among the diverse copolymers studied in this work, PPO copolymer can be easily removed out of the interface during droplet coalescence and stabilize the curvature of minor fiber phase, facilitating the formation of cocontinuous morphology. In contrast, other olefin-based compatibilizers (EPDM, OBC, PP-OBC, and POE) exhibit the distinct steric repulsion effect to prohibit droplet coalescence. Moreover, the cocontinous interval varies with the compatibilizer architectures. Surprisingly, after adding 10 wt% of PPO copolymers, the cocontinuous interval was greatly broadened from HDPE/iPP range of 45/55–60/40 to that of 40/60–70/30.

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This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21574097).

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Correspondence to Zhe Ma or Yue-Sheng Li.

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Yang, F., Pan, L., Du, H. et al. Effect of Olefin-based Compatibilizers on the Formation of Cocontinuous Structure in Immiscible HDPE/iPP Blends. Chin J Polym Sci (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10118-020-2433-7

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  • Compatibilizer
  • polyolefin
  • Cocontinuous structure
  • Droplet-coalescence
  • Phase inversion