Plasticized polylactide (PLA) with increased crystallization ability and prolonged life-span in practical applications due to the minimal plasticizer migration was prepared. Branched plasticized PLA was successfully obtained by coupling poly(butylene succinate-co-adipate) (PBSA) to crotonic acid (CA) functionalized PLA. The plasticization behavior of PBSA coupled PLA (PLA-CA-PBSA) and its counterpart PBSA blended PLA (PLA/PBSA) were fully elucidated. For both PLA-CA-PBSA and PLA/PBSA, a decrease of Tg
to around room temperature and an increase in the elongation at break of PLA from 14% to 165% and 460%, respectively, were determined. The crystallinity was increased from 2.1% to 8.4% for PLA/PBSA and even more, to 10.6%, for PLA-CA-PBSA. Due to the inherent poor miscibility between the PBSA and PLA, phase separation occurred in the blend, while PLA-CA-PBSA showed no phase separation which, together with the higher crystallinity, led to better oxygen barrier properties compared to neat PLA and PLA/PBSA. A higher resistance to migration during hydrolytic degradation for the PLA-CA-PBSA compared to the PLA/PBSA indicated that the plasticization effect of PBSA in the coupled material would be retained for a longer time period.
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