Synthesis of high molecular weight poly(lactic acid) by melt polycondensation
Publication date: 05-04-2012 11:12
PLA is a synthetic biodegradable polymer obtained from a 100% renewable monomer, lactic acid, being one of the most promising substitutes for petrochemical origin materials. Due to its chemical, mechanical and physical properties, PLA has a large range of applications in the biomedical field (with the US Food and Drug Administration approval) and in conventional large scale polymer applications (fibres, films, composites, packaging, textile and general plastic materials) [Garlotta D. J Polym Environ 2002;9:63-84; Gupta AP, Kumar V. EurPolym J 2007 ;43:4053-4074 and Nampoothri KM, Nair NR, John RP. BioresourTechnol 2010;101:8493-8501]. The ring opening polymerization process for producing high molecular weight PLA, already at industrial scale, requires several high energy consuming reaction stages, which increase production costs [Garlotta D. J Polym Environ 2002;9:63-84; Gupta AP, Kumar V. EurPolym J 2007 ;43:4053-4074 and Nampoothri KM, Nair NR, John RP. Bioresour Technol 2010;101:8493-8501], rendering prohibitive PLA’s usage in large scale applications. The objective of this work is to provide a process for synthesising high molecular weight PLA by direct melt lactic acid polycondensation, in the presence of a multifunctional initiator, with the advantage of significant production cost reduction.
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