Development of polylactide open-cell foams with bimodal structure for high-acoustic absorption



In this study, a highly porous and interconnected foam structure was fabricated using compression molding combined with particulate-leaching technique. The foamed structures were fabricated with polylactide (PLA) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) with salt as the particulate. The pore size of the foam structure is controlled by the particulates size and higher interconnectivity is achieved by the co-continuous blending morphology of the PLA matrix with the water-soluble PEG. PLA is a fully bio-based thermoplastic polymer and is derived from renewable resources, such as cornstarch or sugarcanes. PEG is also fully biodegradable polymer produced from ethylene. Fabricated foams were characterized for cellular, acoustic, and mechanical properties. The acoustic performance of the foams was studied by measuring the normal incident absorption coefficient in accordance with the ASTM E1050 standard. The results show open porosity as high as 88% was achieved and the effect of water-soluble polymer on cellular properties and acoustic and mechanical performance of the foams was studied. As a result of the secondary porous structure formed into cell walls by water soluble polymer, the overall absorption of fabricated PLA foams was increased to above 90% while the average absorption of the foams remained unchanged. In addition, the resulting acoustic foams are benign and environmentally friendly. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 39518.