Nanofibrillar Green Composites Of Polylactide/Polyhydroxyalkanoate Produced In Situ Due To Shear Induced Crystallization
This study addresses the new concept of in situ inducing fibrillar morphology (micro or nanofibrils) of a minority component based on the simultaneous occurrence of orientation and shear induced crystallization of polymer fibers directly at the stage of extrusion in a single step. This possibility is demonstrated by using two entirely bio-sourced polymers: polylactide (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) as components. The shear induced crystallization allowed crystallization of PHA nanofibers immediately after applying high shear rate and elongation strain, avoiding subsequent cooling to initiate crystallization. Shearing of PHA increased non-isothermal crystallization temperature by 50 °C and decreased the temperature range in which the transition from a molten state to a crystallized one occurs by 17 °C. SEM observations demonstrate the successful transformation of the dispersed PHA phase into nanofibrils with diameters of nearly 200 nm. The transition from the droplets of PHA to fibers causes the brittle-to-ductile transition of the PLA matrix at a low concentration of PHA and contributes to the simultaneous increase of its rigidity and strength.