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Supertough Polylactide Composites

DOE Grant Recipients

University of Minnesota

Contact University of Minnesota About This Technology


<span id="Caption"><span id="ctl00_MainContentHolder_zoomimage_defaultCaption">The  process to strengthen polylactic acid involves grafting a  non-polylactic acid co-polymer onto polylactic acid which reduces the  danger of additives leaching out of the plastic.  Research is currently  being conducted to increase the transparency and biodegradability of the  plastic.</span></span>
The process to strengthen polylactic acid involves grafting a non-polylactic acid co-polymer onto polylactic acid which reduces the danger of additives leaching out of the plastic. Research is currently being conducted to increase the transparency and biodegradability of the plastic.

<span id="Caption"><span id="ctl00_MainContentHolder_zoomimage_defaultCaption">Strengthened  polylactide (left) has the potential to replace high-impact  polystyrene(right).  High-impact polystyrene has applications in toys  and packaging. </span></span>
Strengthened polylactide (left) has the potential to replace high-impact polystyrene(right). High-impact polystyrene has applications in toys and packaging.

<span id="Caption"><span id="ctl00_MainContentHolder_zoomimage_defaultCaption">Polylactic  acid control before stretching (a) and after (b) versus strengthened  polylactic acid before (c) and after (d). Note the extreme elongation  allowed by the strengthened polylactic acid. </span></span>
Polylactic acid control before stretching (a) and after (b) versus strengthened polylactic acid before (c) and after (d). Note the extreme elongation allowed by the strengthened polylactic acid.

Technology Marketing Summary

Biodegradable Plastics from Strengthened Polylactic Acid

Polylactic acid is a renewable polymer used for creating biodegradable plastics. Unfortunately, polylactic acid has limited applications due to its brittleness when compared to petroleum-derived plastics.

A process developed at the University of Minnesota can strengthen polylactic acid using less added material (as little as 1 wt% of non-polyactic acid material as opposed to 2-3 wt% for commercial additives) by creating a co-polymer. This added strength expands the potential polylatic acid applications to replacement of high impact polystyrene and packaging.

DescriptionA renewable replacement for high impact polystyrene can be used in products manufactured with injection molding such as toys and product casing. Currently, high impact polystyrene is not biodegradable and is derived from petroleum. The strengthened polylactic acid would be derived from domestically-produced renewable resources. Benefits
  • Can be used to create renewable, biodegradable plastic as a replacement for high impact polystyrene
  • Uses as little as 1wt% non-polyactic acid material to toughen polylactide compared with 2-3 wt% needed for commercial additives
Applications and IndustriesPolylactic acid strengthened with a rubbery co-polymer could replace high impact polystyrene. In its current stage of development, it can be used as an efficient method to strengthen polylactic acid without using additives.More Information

Inventor

Dr. Marc Hillmyer

Dr. Hillmyer’s Research Group focuses research on the design, synthesis, and characterization of new polymeric materials. In addition to the development of specific structure-property relationships in these novel materials, his group also strives to discover new and technologically important applications. His group emphasizes the use of modern polymer synthesis techniques that include a variety of controlled polymerizations and selective polymer modifications.

Technical Publication

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Application 20110294960
Application
20110294960
POLYLACTIDE COPOLYMERS
A polylactide copolymer comprises a graft copolymer of a hydrophobic backbone polymer having a plurality of pendant hydroxyl groups and lactide. In one example, a polylactide includes a graft copolymer of a poly(1,5-cyclooctadiene-co5-norbornene-2-methanol) copolymer and lactide. A method of preparing a toughened polylactide comprises forming a hydrophobic backbone copolymer having a plurality of pendant hydroxyl groups and forming a polylactide graft copolymer by reacting the hydrophobic backbone copolymer having a plurality of pendant hydroxyl groups with lactide, wherein polymerized lactide stems from at least one of the plurality of pendant hydroxyl groups. In one example, a method comprises forming poly(1,5-cyclooctadiene-co-5-norbornene-2-menthanol) by reacting 1,5-cyclooctadiene and 5-norbornene-2-methanol in the presence of a 2.sup.nd generation Grubbs' catalyst and cis-1,4-diacetoxy-2-butene as a chain transfer agent and forming poly(1,5-cyclooctadiene-co-5-norbornene-2-methanol-graft-lactide) by reacting the poly(1,5-cyclooctadiene-co-5-norbornene-2-menthanol) as a macroinitiator with lactide in the presence of tin 2-ethylhexanoate and toluene or in the presence of 1,5,7-triazabicyclo[4.4.0]dec-5-ene and dichloromethane.
05/25/2011
Filed
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
Z09084Development - The process has been demonstrated on laboratory scale. Tensile test data has been recorded which verifies the toughness of the created graft copolymer. Research continues to improve toughness of PLA.Available - Licensee will receive rights to practice the intellectual property (patent application) for the purposes of developing and manufacturing a commercial product.03/13/201203/13/2012

Contact University of Minnesota About This Technology

To: University of MinnesotaLarry Micek<exprlic@umn.edu>