Design and characterisation of novel blends of poly(lactic acid)

  • Sukunya Juikham

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is concerned with the effect of polymer structure on miscibility of the three component blends based on poly(lactic acid) (PLA) with using blending techniques. The examination of novel PLA homologues (pre-synthesised poly(a-esters)), including a range of aliphatic and aromatic poly(a-esters) is an important aspect of the work. Because of their structural simplicity and similarity to PLA, they provide an ideal system to study the effect of polyester structures on the miscibility of PLA polymer blends. The miscibility behaviour of the PLA homologues is compared with other aliphatic polyesters (e.g. poly(e-caprolactone) (PCL), poly(hydroxybutyrate hydroxyvalerate) (P(HB-HV)), together with a series of cellulose-based polymers (e.g. cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB)).
The work started with the exploration the technique used for preliminary observation of the miscibility of blends referred to as “a rapid screening method” and then the miscibility of binary blends was observed and characterised by percent transmittance together with the Coleman and Painter miscibility approach. However, it was observed that symmetrical structures (e.g. a1(dimethyl), a2(diethyl)) promote the well-packing which restrict their chains from intermingling into poly(L-lactide) (PLLA) chains and leads the blends to be immiscible, whereas, asymmetrical structures (e.g. a4(cyclohexyl)) behave to the contrary. a6(chloromethyl-methyl) should interact well with PLLA because of the polar group of chloride to form interactions, but it does not. It is difficult to disrupt the helical structure of PLLA. PLA were immiscible with PCL, P(HB-HV), or compatibiliser (e.g. G40, LLA-co-PCL), but miscible with CAB which is a hydrogen-bonded polymer.
However, these binary blends provided a useful indication for the exploration the novel three component blends.
In summary, the miscibility of the three-component blends are miscible even if only two polymers are miscible. This is the benefit for doing the three components blend in this thesis, which is not an attempt to produce a theoretical explanation for the miscibility of three components blend system.
Date of Award9 Jan 2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBrian Tighe (Supervisor)


  • poly(lactic acid) (PLA)
  • characterisation
  • poly(α-ester) homologues
  • blends
  • degree of crystallinity
  • compatibilisers
  • miscibility

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