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Title: Synthesis and evaluation of novel polymer modifiers for biodegradable polymers
Author: Burford, James A.
Awarding Body: Aston University
Current Institution: Aston University
Date of Award: 2002
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The effects of ester plasticizers and copolymers on the mechanical properties of the natural biodegradable polymers, poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) [PHB] and poly(lactic acid) [PLA] have been studied after subjecting to melt processing conditions. Ester plasticizers were synthesized from citric, tartaric and maleic acids using various alcohols. A variety ofPLA copolymers have also been prepared from poly(ethylene glycol) derivatives using stannous octanoate catalysed ring opening polymerisations ofDL-lactide. A novel PLA star copolymer was also prepared from an ethoxylated pentaerythritol. The structures of these copolymers were determined by NMR spectroscopy. The plasticizing effect ofthe synthesised additives at various concentrations was determined. While certain additives were capable of improving the mechanical properties ofPLA, none were effective in PRB. Moreover, it was found that certain combinations of additives exhibited synergistic effects. Possible mechanisms are discussed. Biotic and abiotic degradation studies showed that the plasticizers (esters and copolymers) did not inhibit the biodegradability ofPHB or PLA in compost at 60°C. Simple toxicity tests carried out on compost extract and its ability to support the growth of cress seeds was established. PLA was found to be susceptible to limited thermal degradation under melt processing conditions. Conventional phenolic antioxidants showed no significant effect on this process, suggesting that degradation was not predominantly a free radical process. PLA also underwent photo-oxidative degradation with UV light and the process could be accelerated in the presence of a photoactivator such as iron (III) diisononyl dithiocarbamate. The mechanisms for the above processes are discussed. Finally, selected compounds were prepared on a pilot plant scale. Extruded and blown films were prepared containing these additives with conventional polymer processing equipment. The mechanical properties were similar to those obtained with laboratory produced compression moulded films.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Chemical Engineering ; Applied Chemistry ; Chemical Engineering Chemistry, Organic