The melt/solid polycondensation of L-lactic acid (LA) was successfully conducted using a binary catalyst system comprising tin dichloride hydrate and p-toluenesulfonic acid (TSA). First, a thermal oligocondensate of LA with a degree of polymerization of eight was mixed with the binary catalyst and subjected to melt polycondensation at 180°C for 5 h to obtain a melt polycondensate with an average molecular weight of 13 000 Da. This melt polycondensate was then heat treated at 105°C for 2 h and subjected to solidstate polycondensation under various conditions to obtain a high-molecular weight polymer of poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA). In a typical case, the solid-state reaction was performed by raising the temperature from 130 to 155°C, or at a constant temperature of 140 or 150°C. In the former case the molecular weight of PLLA increased linearly with the temperature increase, while in the latter case the molecular weight increased above 500 000 Da in a relatively short reaction time. The crystallization of the polycondensate was a key step of this polycondensation and the crystallinity of the PLLA product was well correlated with the increase in the molecular weight. This method can be a direct industrial method for the manufacture of PLLA from LA, which may potentially be an alternative to the currently adopted lactide method.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry