Renewable composites were prepared by melt blending of polylactide and soybean oil. The blend morphology was tuned by the addition of poly(isoprene-b-lactide) block copolymers. Due to the extreme difference in the viscosities of soybean oil and polylactide, a critical block copolymer composition was found to induce a phase inversion point at which the minor soybean oil phase became the matrix surrounding polylactide particles. This transition was due to the thermodynamic interactions between the block copolymer and the two phases and shear forces acting on the mixture during blending. The size of the soybean oil droplets in the polylactide matrix was also highly dependent on the block copolymer composition. In binary polylactide/soybean oil blends, there was a limiting concentration of soybean oil that could be incorporated into the polylactide matrix (6% of the total blend weight), which could be increased up to 20% by the addition of block copolymers.
- block copolymer compatibilization
- phase inversion
- polymer blends
- renewable resource polymers
- soybean oil