Tough blends of polylactide and castor oil

Megan L. Robertson, Jessica M. Paxton, Marc A. Hillmyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Poly(l-lactide) (PLLA) is a renewable resource polymer derived from plant sugars with several commercial applications. Broader implementation of the material is limited due to its inherent brittleness. We show that the addition of 5 wt % castor oil to PLLA significantly enhances the overall tensile toughness with minimal reductions in the modulus and no plasticization of the PLLA matrix. In addition, we used poly(ricinoleic acid)-PLLA diblock copolymers, synthesized entirely from renewable resources, as compatibilizers for the PLLA/castor oil blends. Ricinoleic acid, the majority fatty acid comprising castor oil, was polymerized through a lipase-catalyzed condensation reaction. The resulting polymers contained a hydroxyl end-group that was subsequently used to initiate the ring-opening polymerization of l-lactide. The binary PLLA/castor oil blend exhibited a tensile toughness seven times greater than neat PLLA. The addition of block copolymer allowed for control over the morphology of the blends, and even further improvement in the tensile toughness was realized-an order of magnitude larger than that of neat PLLA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3402-3410
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 28 2011


  • block copolymer compatibilization
  • castor oil
  • polylactide
  • polymer blends
  • renewable resource polymers
  • ricinoleic acid
  • sustainable materials


Dive into the research topics of 'Tough blends of polylactide and castor oil'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this