The reactive compatibilization of blends of HDPE–PET [high-density polyethylene–poly(ethylene terephthalate)] was investigated in this study. The compatibilizers used were two grafted copolymers prepared by reactive extrusion containing 1.20–2.30 wt % GMA such as HDPE-g-GMA and one statistical copolymer containing 1 wt % GMA such as Lotader AX8920. HDPE was successfully functionalized using a melt free-radical grafting technique. Grafting was initiated in two ways: adding an initiator in the polymer–monomer mixture or activation by ozone of polymer. Ozonization of HDPE by the introduction of a peroxide lead to a better grafting yield and to better grafting efficiency of the samples. The effects of the three compatibilizers were evaluated by studying the morphology and the thermal and mechanical properties of HDPE–PET (70/30 wt %) blends. Significant improvements were observed, especially in morphology, elongation at break, and Charpy impact strength of the compatibilized blends. A more pronounced compatibilizing effect was obtained with the statistical copolymer, for which the elongation at break and the impact strength were increased by 100%, while the uncompatibilized blends showed a 60% decrease in the Young's modulus and the strength at break. We also were able to show that the grafting yield increase of 1.20–2.30 wt % of GMA did not affect the properties of the blends because the grafted copolymers possess very similar chemical structures. However, compatibilization of blends with grafted copolymers is an interesting method, particularly for recycled blends, because the synthesis of these compatibilizers is easy and cheap in comparison to statistical copolymer. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 81: 2377–2386, 2001
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