Evaluation of thermal properties and crystallinity in PHB-based systems - a DoE approach

Majerczak, Katarzyna and Liggat, John J. (2024) Evaluation of thermal properties and crystallinity in PHB-based systems - a DoE approach. Journal of Polymers and the Environment. ISSN 1572-8900 (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10924-024-03234-4)

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Complex formulations based on poly(hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) and poly(hydroxybutyrate-co-valerate) (PHBV) were studied to statistically assess the effect of formulation (i.e., hydroxyvalerate (HV) content, plasticiser chemistry and content, filler type and content) on their thermal properties and degree of crystallinity (Xc). In binary systems, thermal properties were mainly influenced by filler type rather than its content, while for plasticised systems the changes were dependent on both increasing plasticiser content and PHB-plasticiser compatibility. Variations in HV content affected the ability of the polymer chain to fold, leading to significant changes in both thermal properties and Xc. In ternary systems, presence of multiple additives and consequent changes in intermolecular interactions lead to multifaceted behaviours that were not easily predicted by results from binary systems alone. For example, melting temperature did not show dependence on filler presence in PHBV systems despite introducing variations in pure PHB systems. In general, thermal properties and Xc are affected by all parameters studied, with changes in system free volume (i.e. changes in HV content and plasticisation) playing the most significant role. These results expand the understanding of factors controlling crystallisation in complex polymer systems and can be used to control matrix properties in new generations of packaging materials.