Lightweight micro-cellular plastics from polylactide/polyolefin hybrids

Yuewen Xu, Paula Delgado, Alexander D. Todd, Jesse Loi, Stacey A. Saba, Ryan J. McEneany, Ted Tower, Vasily Topolkaraev, Christopher W. Macosko, Marc A. Hillmyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Semi-crystalline polylactide (PLA)/polyolefin multi-component blends were used as precursors for the generation of a new class of micro-cellular polymers. Either a polypropylene-based elastomer (PBE) or polypropylene (PP) homopolymer were utilized as dispersed phases at the 10 wt% level. An epoxy-functionalized terpolymer (PEGMMA) was introduced (1 wt%) as a reactive compatibilizer to reduce the dispersed phase droplet size and provide sufficient adhesion between the matrix and dispersed phase. In addition, a polyalkylene glycol liquid (PAG) was added to the blend (4 wt%) to serve as a PLA plasticizer and interfacial modifier. The multicomponent blends exhibited significant increases in strain at break as compared to neat PLA and were subjected to a range of uniaxial strains (10–90%) at room temperature. These cold drawn materials exhibited nearly constant cross-sectional area and fine micro-cellular structures, as revealed by scanning electron microscopy. Distinct different voiding mechanisms observed for the PBE- and PP-containing blends were ascribed to the differences in the dispersed phase elastic moduli and deformability. The material density of cold drawn blends was reduced by up to 34% when compared to the precursor blends without a noticeable change in cross-sectional area. The novel low-density microcellular PLA blends demonstrated outstanding mechanical properties such as high strength, high modulus, substantial ductility, and a 14-fold increase in impact resistance as compared to PLA homopolymer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Oct 12 2016


  • Lightweight polymer
  • Polylactide
  • Polymer blend

How much support was provided by MRSEC?

  • Shared

Reporting period for MRSEC

  • Period 3

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    Xu, Y., Delgado, P., Todd, A. D., Loi, J., Saba, S. A., McEneany, R. J., Tower, T., Topolkaraev, V., Macosko, C. W., & Hillmyer, M. A. (2016). Lightweight micro-cellular plastics from polylactide/polyolefin hybrids. Polymer, 102, 73-83.