Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) was blended with decanol-esterified styrene maleic anhydride copolymer (MDESMA) with an aim to enhance the environmental degradability of polyethylenes. Styrene-maleic anhydride copolymer (SMA) was synthesized by precipitation polymerization, using benzoyl peroxide (BPO) as initiator. SMA was esterified with a long-chain monoalcohol, n-decanol, using methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) as solvent at 80°C to obtain monoesterified styrene-maleic anhydride (MDESMA). Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimeter (DSC), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) were performed to characterize SMA and MDESMA. IR spectra of MDESMA showed a decrease in intensity of peak responsible for carbonyl absorption of a five-membered ring anhydride group along with broadening of carboxyl OH stretching peak. TGA showed two-stage degradation for SMA and MDESMA. LLDPE was blended with MDESMA in single-screw extruder and blends were characterized thermally by DSC and TGA. A single endothermic melting peak of LLDPE/MDESMA blend was observed. Films of the blends, formed by compression molding, showed an increase in modulus of elasticity but a decrease in elongation at break with increasing concentration of MDESMA. LLDPE/MDESMA blend compositions when kept in phosphate/citric acid buffer solution (pH ∼ 8) showed initial weight gain because of water absorption and subsequently loss in weight due to dissolution of soluble component of blends. Film samples of blends kept for soil burial also showed similar behavior. Contact-angle measurement of film samples of the blends showed an increase in value on soil burial, indicating degradation/dissolution of MDESMA. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 92: 102–108, 2004
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