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Mechanical and thermal properties, morphology and relaxation characteristics of poly(lactic acid) and soy flour/wood flour blends

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Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) is a biodegradable polymer derived from sugar‐based materials, and its applications are varied. PLA blends are commonly employed to overcome certain disadvantages such as poor impact strength, low heat distortion temperature, poor processability and relatively high cost. In this study, blending PLA with soy flour (SF), wood flour (WF) and sodium bisulfite‐modified SF was used to improve the adhesion to PLA. In all cases, 0.5 wt% methylenediphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) was used as a coupling agent. Mechanical and thermal properties, morphology and relaxation characteristics of the blends were investigated. The results showed that MDI was an effective coupling agent for the WF/PLA system in improving tensile strength and elongation. Differential scanning calorimetry results indicated that SF and modified SF act as nucleation agents and facilitate the crystallization behavior of PLA by increasing the percentage crystallinity. From mechanical relaxation of the temperature‐variant system, we determined how the mechanical relaxation time evolves during the course of heating and obtained the Kohlrausch–Williams–Watts parameter and activation energy (ΔE). PLA and its blends exhibited highly homogeneous relaxational dynamics in their transition from glass to liquid, and ΔE of PLA and its blends is mainly affected by their densities and compositions. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry
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Keywords: PLA blends with soy flour/wood flour; activation energy; dynamic heterogeneity; mechanical relaxation time; poly(lactic acid); thermomechanical properties

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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