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Keywords:

  • biodegradable polymer;
  • chain extension by grafting;
  • poly(ethylene-co-vinyl alcohol);
  • poly(L-lactic acid)

Abstract

Poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) was blended with poly(ethylene-co-vinyl alcohol) (EVOH) in the presence of an esterification catalyst to induce reaction between the hydroxyl groups of EVOH and the terminal carboxylic group of PLLA. Nascent low-molecular-weight PLLA, obtained from a direct condensation polymerization of L-lactic acid in bulk state, was used for the blending. Domain size of the PLLA phase in the graft copolymer was much smaller than that corresponding to a PLLA/EVOH simple blend. The mechanical properties of the graft copolymer were far superior to those of the simple blend, and the graft copolymer exhibited excellent mechanical properties even though the biodegradable fraction substantially exceeded the percolation level. The grafted PLLA reduced the crystallization rate of the EVOH moiety. Melting peak temperature (Tm) of the PLLA phase was not observed until the content of PLLA in the graft reaction medium went over 60 wt %. The modified Sturm test results demonstrated that biodegradation of EVOH-g-PLLA took place more slowly than that of an EVOH/PLLA simple blend, indicating that the chemically bound PLLA moiety was less susceptible to microbial attack than PLLA in the simple blend. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 98: 886–890, 2005