Synthesis of Polymer Blends to Toughen Biobased Polyesters through Reactive Extrusion of Soybean Derived Elastomers
Kuehl, Baker Ward
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Here we discuss a project series pertaining to the improvement of biobased thermoplastics. We demonstrate a family of soybean based elastomers can be synthesized through RAFT polymerization yielding various polymeric architectures. RAFT was chosen as the technique for polymerization since RAFT has the ability to suppress gelation of multi-functional monomers. We found these soybean based polymers allowed for the incorporation of these rubbers using reactive extrusion due to the epoxy ring moieties. The choice of polymer architecture and polymer content was shown to heavily dictate the final thermo-mechanical properties of the final polymer composite. We studied the polymer thermo-mechanical properties and the morphology of the polymer composite. We found the soybean elastomer could improve both the tensile toughness and impact strength of PLA by 1-2 orders of magnitude. A block copolymer was shown to induce rubber particle cavitation in the final matrix. Rubber cavitation resulted in quick plastic deformation and shear yielding of the PLA matrix.