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Curable polyester precursors from polylactic acid glycolyzed products


Curable precursors are prepared from chemical recycling of degradable polylactic acid (PLA) for development of aliphatic polyester thermoset materials. PLA resin (NatureWork 4042D) was de-polymerized via glycolysis under various conditions to produce PLA glycolysates (GlyPLAs), whose chain-ends mainly consist of hydroxyl groups with \(\bar{M}_{n}\) ranging from 3,600 to 17,000 g/mol. Unsaturated double bonds (DB) were introduced into GlyPLA structures by end-capping with methacrylic anhydride to generate curable LA-precursors. The end-capping efficiency is strongly dependent on the molecular weight of GlyPLAs, where smaller-sized glycolysates produce LA-precursors with higher DB content. Curing behaviors of the precursors are thoroughly examined. DSC and FTIR results show that curing reactions at 140 °C are completed after 2 h for all samples. Results on gel fraction indicate that LA-precursor with \(\bar{M}_{n}\) ~ 3,600 g/mol is the most effective candidate for producing network products with high crosslink density.

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Financial support of this work is partly provided by the Science and Technology Innovation Support Project (Chulalongkorn University) and the National Research University Project of the Commission of Higher Education (CHE), and the Ratchadaphiseksomphot Endowment Fund (AM1029A).

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Correspondence to M. Opaprakasit.

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Tounthai, J., Petchsuk, A., Opaprakasit, P. et al. Curable polyester precursors from polylactic acid glycolyzed products. Polym. Bull. 70, 2223–2238 (2013).

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