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Polymers 2015, 7(4), 760-776;

Effect of Artificial Weathering on PLA/Nanocomposite Molecular Weight Distribution

Centro de Investigación en Materiales Avanzados, S.C., Miguel de Cervantes No. 120, C.P. 31136, Complejo Industrial Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico
Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas; Unidad Académica de Ciencias de la Tierra, Calzada de la Universidad 108, Zacatecas, Mexico
Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Circuito Universitario s/n, Campus Universitario No. 2, C.P. 31125, Chihuahua, Mexico
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: João F. Mano
Received: 23 January 2015 / Revised: 3 April 2015 / Accepted: 16 April 2015 / Published: 22 April 2015
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The reduction of polylactide acid (PLA) molecular weight for amorphous and semicrystalline grade nanocomposites with 5 wt% load of organomodified montmorillonite Cloisite30B (C30B) was investigated in periods of up to 360 h under artificial weathering. A correlation between artificial and natural weathering was established. The nanocomposites were prepared by mixing the C30B in PLA matrix using two stages of extrusion followed by injection molding. In addition, we also studied materials without C30B in PLA matrix prepared by a single stage of injection, as well as with two stages of extrusion followed by injection, in order to assess thermal effects. XRD (X-ray diffraction) and TEM (Transmission electron microscope) were used to determine the layer dispersion of the C30B within the PLA. An increase in the interlayer spacing of a sandwich structure corresponding to a partial exfoliation of the C30B was found, leading to the creation of small particles at nanoscale of one (1.29 nm) to eight (11.76 nm) platelets. Also, GPC (Gel permeation chromatography) was used to evaluate the molecular weight decay of neat PLA and its nanocomposites due to thermal processing and subsequent artificial weathering exposure. From thermal processing, a more significant decrease of polydispersity in amorphous PLA than in semicrystalline PLA counterparts could be observed. First order fitting of molecular weight decay of samples versus time of exposure under artificial weathering was found for all materials tested. It was observed that the addition of clay favored PLA degradation in amorphous PLA, in comparison with semicrystalline PLA in both thermal processing and artificial weathering. Moreover, a possible effect of C30B interactions with PLA chains under artificial weathering could be postulated. View Full-Text
Keywords: artificial weathering; natural weathering; PLA/nanocomposite; molecular weight; cloisite30B artificial weathering; natural weathering; PLA/nanocomposite; molecular weight; cloisite30B

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Chávez-Montes, W.M.; González-Sánchez, G.; López-Martínez, E.I.; de Lira-Gómez, P.; Ballinas-Casarrubias, L.; Flores-Gallardo, S. Effect of Artificial Weathering on PLA/Nanocomposite Molecular Weight Distribution. Polymers 2015, 7, 760-776.

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