Effect of clay type and polymer matrix on microstructure and tensile properties of PLA/LLDPE/clay nanocomposites



Polylactide (PLA)/linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), (PLA/LLDPE), blends and nanocomposites were prepared by melt mixing process with a view to fine tune the properties. Two different commercial-grade nanoclays, Cloisite® 30B (30B) and Cloisite® 15A (15A) were used. A terpolymer of ethylene, butylacrylate (BA) and glycidylmethacrylate (GMA) was used as a reactive compatibilizer. The influence of type of clay on the morphology and mechanical properties of two PLA-rich and LLDPE-rich blend systems was studied. Morphological analysis using X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy revealed that the organoclay layers were dispersed largely at the interface of PLA/LLDPE. Decreasing the PLA content changed the morphology from droplet-in matrix to coarse co-continuous. In comparison with 30B, due to less affinity of 15A towards compatibilizer and PLA phase, the reduction of the size of dispersed phase was less than that of the equivalent 30B composites. The mechanical results demonstrated that the composites containing both types of organoclay exhibited higher modulus but lower elongation and tensile strength as compared to the neat blends. The injection molded nanocomposites were shown to have the sequential fracture behavior during tensile test. The tensile testing results on the neat blends and nanocomposites showed significant increase in elongation at break and decrease in the modulus as compared with the neat PLA. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 130: 749-758, 2013