Synthesis, Properties, and Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Poly(lactic acid)-Co-Poly(propylene adipate) Block Copolymers Prepared by Reactive Extrusion
Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) is a biobased polyester with ever-growing applications in the fields of packaging and medicine. Despite its popularity, it suffers from inherent brittleness, a very slow degradation rate and a high production cost. To tune the properties of PLA, block copolymers with poly(propylene adipate) (PPAd) prepolymer were prepared by polymerizing L-lactide and PPAd oligomers via reactive extrusion (REX) in a torque rheometer. The effect of reaction temperature and composition on the molecular weight, chemical structure, and physicochemical properties of the copolymers was studied. The introduction of PPAd successfully increased the elongation and the biodegradation rate of PLA. REX is an efficient and economical alternative method for the fast and continuous synthesis of PLA-based copolymers with tunable properties.