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In Service Performance of Toughened PHBV/TPU Blends Obtained by Reactive Extrusion for Injected Parts

Moving toward a more sustainable production model based on a circular economy, biopolymers are considered as one of the most promising alternatives to reduce the dependence on oil-based plastics. Polyhydroxybutyrate-co-valerate (PHBV), a bacterial biopolyester from the polyhydroxialkanoates (PHAs) family, seems to be an attractive candidate to replace commodities in many applications such as rigid packaging, among others, due to its excellent overall physicochemical and mechanical properties. However, it presents a relatively poor thermal stability, low toughness and ductility, thus limiting its applicability with respect to other polymers such as polypropylene (PP). To improve the performance of PHBV, reactive blending with an elastomer seems to be a proper cost-effective strategy that would lead to increased ductility and toughness by rubber toughening mechanisms. Hence, the objective of this work was the development and characterization of toughness-improved blends of PHBV with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) using hexamethylene diisocyanate (HMDI) as a reactive extrusion agent. To better understand the role of the elastomer and the compatibilizer, the morphological, rheological, thermal, and mechanical behavior of the blends were investigated. To explore the in-service performance of the blends, mechanical and long-term creep characterization were conducted at three different temperatures (−20, 23, 50 °C). Furthermore, the biodegradability in composting conditions has also been tested. The results showed that HMDI proved its efficiency as a compatibilizer in this system, reducing the average particle size of the TPU disperse phase and enhancing the adhesion between the PHBV matrix and TPU elastomer. Although the sole incorporation of the TPU leads to slight improvements in toughness, the compatibilizer plays a key role in improving the overall performance of the blends, leading to a clear improvement in toughness and long-term behavior.

Publication date: 09/06/2022

Author: Kerly Samaniego-Aguilar

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym14122337

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.