Selected Fatty Acids Esters as Potential PHB-V Bioplasticizers: Effect on Mechanical Properties of the Polymer
Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHB-V) has not been used for demanding technical applications yet due to its limited mechanical properties, particularly its high brittleness. An appropriate route to overcome these limitations is the implementation of plasticizers in the PHB-V matrix via compounding. In this paper the use of different types of fatty acids esters as PHB-V plasticizers were investigated. The study describes how the difference in the fatty acid esters structure (mainly fatty acid hydrocarbon chain length) affects their plasticizing effect and thus the PHB-V ductility performance. The best impact properties of PHB-V compounds were obtained for oleic acid methyl ester, palmitic acid methyl ester or lauric acid ethylene glycol monoester. The increase of notched impact strength from 1.4 (for neat polymer) to 4.0-4.1 kJ/m2 was observed. At the same time stiffness and strength of the polymer decreased but remain on a level sufficient for technical applications. Additional drawback of PHB-V materials is increasing the brittleness over time. Moreover this study shows that the use of oleic acid ethylene glycol monoester or stearic acid ethylene glycol monoester as plasticizers significantly reduces the increase of the brittleness of PHB-V over time. It is relevant that this drawback of PHB-V materials can be significantly improved by plasticizer addition.