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Polylactide (PLA) is a promising material, with favorable modulus, renewable sources, and biodegradability. However, its low extension at break (4–7%) and toughness (notched Izod, 26 J/m) limit its applications (Anderson et al., Polym. Rev., 48, 85 (2008)). PLA toughening has been the subject of recent reviews, and is the basis for several commercial products. This work aims to increase PLA toughness using rubbery, linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), glycidyl methacrylate functional PE compatibilizer (EGMA), and novel catalysts that promote copolymer formation at the interface of immiscible blends of PLA and EGMA/LLDPE. Droplet size was reduced from 2.7 µm to 1.7 µm with addition of 5 wt% EGMA, and further to 1.0 µm with the addition of cobalt octoate catalyst. Extension at break of 200% is achieved with only 5 wt% EGMA, 15 wt% LLDPE, and 0.01 M cobalt octoate, leading to an increase in tensile toughness of over an order of magnitude (compared to neat PLA). This work demonstrates that catalysts can reduce the amount of reactive compatibilizer necessary to achieve a given PLA toughness. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 58:28–36, 2018.
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© 2017 Society of Plastics Engineers
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