Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

Synthesis and Thermal Properties of Telechelic Poly(lactic acid) Ionomers

Robert Weiss, The University of Akron


Telechelic poly(lactic acid) (PLA) ionomers were synthesized using a chemical recycling process. A transesterification reaction between a commercial PLA and 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate or ethylene glycol was used to produce a hydroxy-terminated PLA. The hydroxy-terminated PLA was then reacted with itaconic anhydride to produce terminal carboxylic acid groups, which were neutralized with appropriate metal acetates to produce Na-, Li-, K-, Zn-, Ca- and Y-ω- and α,ω-telechelic PLA ionomers. 1H NMR spectroscopy was used to confirm the presence of the itaconic acid end-groups and FTIR spectroscopy was used to quantify the extent of neutralization. The addition of the ionic groups increased the glass transition (Tg), and Tg increased as the strength of the ion-pair increased. The ionic groups suppressed crystallinity, especially when multivalent cations were used.