, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 39-45

Poly[(R)-3-hydroxy butyrate] Melt Processing: Strategy for Prevention of Degradation Reactions

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Abstract

Poly[(R)-3-hydroxy butyrate] (PHB) as well as all the components of the poly[(R)-3-hydroxy alkanoate]s (PHAs) family tend to degrade during processing at temperatures above their melting point via a hydrolytic mechanism induced by moisture attack and a concerted reaction mechanism induced by temperature. Therefore, the PHAs stabilization in the molten state is particularly important for production of biodegradable ecocompatible plastic items of commercial value. In order to refrain the indicated negative degradation effects, PHB was melt processed in a torque rheometer in the presence of a polymeric carbodiimide agent. Processed specimens were characterized by using FTIR, GPC, DSC, TGA and tensile properties. GPC analysis showed that the increase of the additive content in the formulation resulted in an increase of PHB molecular weight. However, decreasing in PHB thermal stability, glass transition temperature and mechanical properties, was observed with the increase of the additive amount. This behaviour most likely arises from the formation of new chemical structures promoted by the presence of the additive aimed at preventing the onset of hydrolitic processes.