Polylactic acid / polycaprolactone blends: on the path to circular economy, substituting single-use commodity plastic products
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Circular economy comes to break the linear resource to waste economy, by introducing different strategies, two of them being: using material from renewable sources and producing biodegradable products. The present work aims at developing polylactic acid (PLA), typically made from fermented plant starch, and polycaprolactone (PCL) blends, a biodegradable polyester, to study their potential to be used as substitutes of oil-based commodity plastics. For this, PLA/PCL blends were compounded in a batch and lab scale internal mixer and processed by means of injection molding. Tensile and impact characteristics were determined and compared to different thermoplastic materials, such as polypropylene, high density polyethylene, polystyrene, and others. It has been found that the incorporation of PCL into a PLA matrix can lead to materials in the range of 18.25 to 63.13 megapascals of tensile strength, 0.56 to 3.82 gigapascals of Young's modulus, 12.65 to 3.27 percent of strain at maximum strength, and 35 to 2 kJ/m2 of notched impact strength. The evolution of the tensile strength fitted the Voigt and Reuss model, while Young's modulus was successfully described by the rule of mixtures. Toughness of PLA was significantly improved with the incorporation of PCL, significantly increasing the energy required to fracture the specimens. Blends containing more than 20 wt% of PCL did not break when unnotched specimens were tested. Overall, it was found that the obtained PLA/PCL blends can constitute a strong and environmentally friendly alternative to oil-based commodity materials.
Is part ofMaterials, 2020, vol. 13, num. 11, p. 1-18
European research projects
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