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Scale-Up of Polymerization Process of Biodegradable Polymer Poly(lactic acid) Synthesis Using Direct Polycondensation Method

Pivsa-Art, Sommai;Niamlang, Sumonman;Pivsa-Art, Weraporn;Santipatee, Nutchapon;Wongborh, Tossamon;Pavasupree, Sorapong;Ishimoto, Kiyoaki;Ohara, Hitomi

  • Received : 2015.07.12
  • Accepted : 2015.11.16
  • Published : 2015.12.31

Abstract

Environmental problems from petroleum-based plastic wastes have been rapidly increasing in recent years. The alternative solution is focus on the development of environmental friendly plastic derived from renewable resource. Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) is a biodegradable polymer synthesized from biomass having potential to replace the petroleum-based non-degradable polymers utilizations. PLA can be synthesized by two methods: (1) ring-opening of lactide intermediate and (2) direct polycondensation of lactic acid processes. The latter process has advantages on high yields and high purity of polymer products, materials handling and ease of process treatments. The polymerization process of PLA synthesis has been widely studied in a laboratory scale. However, the mass scale production using direct polycondensation of lactic acid has not been reported. We have investigated the kinetics and scale-up process of direct polycondensation method to produce PLA in a pilot scale. The order of reaction is 2 and activation energy of lactic acid to lactic acid oligomers is 61.58 kJ/mol. The pre-polymer was further polymerized in a solid state polymerization (SSP) process. The synthesized PLA from both the laboratory and pilot scales show the comparable properties such as melting temperature and molecular weight. The appearance of synthesized PLA is yellow-white solid powder.

Keywords

poly(lactic acid);kinetics of lactic acid polymerization;scale-up polymerization;2-steps direct polycondensation;solid state polymerization

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