Summary: Copolyesters containing aliphatic units in the main chain were obtained by reacting high molar mass poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) with ε-caprolactone or δ-valerolactone at high temperature in the bulk. γ-Butyrolactone did not react in these conditions. Thermal properties were studied by DSC and TGA, and structural characterizations were carried out by 1H NMR spectroscopy and SEC/MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry off-line coupling. These techniques demonstrate the insertion of lactone units in PET chains. Linear species with hydroxy, carboxy and vinyl ester end-groups were clearly identified in the mass spectra, together with cyclic copolymer species. Narrow-distribution copolyester SEC fractions were characterized by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry and used to establish a SEC calibration curve against absolute molar masses. The results indicate that the conventional polystyrene SEC calibration strongly overestimates copolyester molar masses. The degree of randomness of these copolyesters, determined by 1H NMR, shows that chain microstructure presents some block-copolymer character. The thermal properties of the copolyesters are also discussed.
Reaction between PET and γ-butyrolactone (x = 3), δ-valerolactone (x = 4), or ε-caprolactone (x = 5).