Reactive processing of polymers: effect of in situ compatibilisation on characteristics of blends of polyethylene terephthalate and ethylene-propylene rubber

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Ethylene-propylene rubber (EPR) functionalised with glycidyl methacrylate (GMA) (f-EPR) during melt processing in the presence of a co-monomer, such as trimethylolpropane triacrylate (Tris), was used to promote compatibilisation in blends of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and f-EPR, and their characteristics were compared with those of PET/f-EPR reactive blends in which the f-EPR was functionalised with GMA via a conventional free radical melt reaction (in the absence of a co-monomer). Binary blends of PETand f-EPR (with two types of f-EPR prepared either in presence or absence of the co-monomer) with various compositions (80/20, 60/40 and 50/50 w/w%) were prepared in an internal mixer. The blends were evaluated by their rheology (from changes in torque during melt processing and blending reflecting melt viscosity, and their melt flow rate), morphology scanning electron microscopy (SEM), dynamic mechanical properties (DMA), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis, and solubility (Molau) test.

The reactive blends (PET/f-EPR) showed a marked increase in their melt viscosities in comparison with the corresponding physical (PET/EPR) blends (higher torque during melt blending), the extent of which depended on the amount of homopolymerised GMA (poly-GMA) present and the level of GMA grafting in the f-EPR. This increase was accounted for by, most probably, the occurrence of a reaction between the epoxy groups of GMA and the hydroxyl/carboxyl end groups of PET. Morphological examination by SEM showed a large improvement of phase dispersion, indicating reduced interfacial tension and compatibilisation, in both reactive blends, but with the Tris-GMA-based blends showing an even finer morphology (these blends are characterised by absence of poly-GMA and presence of higher level of grafted GMA in its f-EPR component by comparison to the conventional GMA-based blends). Examination of the DMA for the reactive blends at different compositions showed that in both cases there was a smaller separation between the glass transition temperatures compared to their position in the corresponding physical blends, which pointed to some interaction or chemical reaction between f-EPR and PET. The DMA results also showed that the shifts in the Tgs of the Tris-GMA-based blends were slightly higher than for the conventional GMA-blends. However, the overall tendency of the Tgs to approach each other in each case was found not to be significantly different (e.g. in a 60/40 ratio the former blend shifted by up to 4.5 °C in each direction whereas in the latter blend the shifts were about 3 °C). These results would suggest that in these blends the SEM and DMA analyses are probing uncorrelatable morphological details. The evidence for the formation of in situ graft copolymer between the f-EPR and PET during reactive blending was clearly illustrated from analysis by FTIR of the separated phases from the Tris-GMA-based reactive blends, and the positive Molau test pointed out to graft copolymerisation in the interface. A mechanism for the formation of the interfacial reaction during the reactive blending process is proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-228
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2005


  • reactive blending
  • reactice processing
  • PET/EPR blends


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