The patent's assignee is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "(a) Field of the Invention
"The present invention relates to polylactide resins with improved properties, and a preparation process therefor. More specifically, the present invention is directed to an organometallic complex and a catalyst composition capable of producing polylactide resins with improved properties at a higher conversion rate, a method of producing the organometallic complex, polylactide resins having enhanced hydrolysis resistance and heat resistance together with superior mechanical properties, a preparation process therefor, and polylactide resin compositions including the same.
"(b) Description of the Related Art
"Polylactides (or polylactic acids) are a type of resin including a repeating unit of the following General Formula. Unlike conventional petroleum-based resins, the polylactide resins, which are based on biomass, can utilize renewable resources, and their preparation generates less greenhouse gas, CO.sub.2, than the preparation of other conventional resins. Also, not only do they have eco-friendly attributes such as biodegradability by water and microorganisms when being buried, but they also possess suitable mechanical strength comparable to the conventional petroleum-based resins.
"The polylactide resins have been used mainly for disposable packages/containers, coatings, foams, films/sheets, and fibers. Recently, more efforts have been made to enhance the properties of the polylactide resins by mixing them with conventional resins such as ABS, polycarbonate, or polypropylene, and then utilizing them in a semi-permanent use such as for exterior materials of cell phones or interior materials of vehicles. However, the polylactide resins tend to biodegrade in and of themselves due to factors such as the catalyst used in their preparation, moisture in the air, and the like, and up to now such drawbacks of their own properties have limited their application.
"Previously known processes for preparing the polylactide resins involve either directly subjecting lactic acid to condensation polymerization or carrying out ring opening polymerization with lactide monomers in the presence of an organometallic catalyst. In this regard, the direct condensation polymerization can produce the polymer at a low cost but it is difficult for the resulting polymers to have a high molecular weight in terms of a weight average molecular weight of 100,000 or more, making it difficult to sufficiently ensure the physical and mechanical properties of the polylactide resins. On the other hand, the ring opening polymerization of the lactide monomers entails a higher cost than the condensation polymerization since the lactide monomers should be prepared from lactic acid, but it can produce a polymer having a relatively high molecular weight and is advantageous in controlling the polymerization, and thus it is commercially used.
"Representative examples of the catalyst as used in such ring opening polymerization include a Sn-containing catalysts such as Sn(Oct).sub.2 (Oct=2-ethyl hexanoate). However, this catalyst not only promotes the ring opening polymerization, but also tends to accelerate the depolymerization at a conversion rate exceeding a certain level (see U.S. Pat. No. 5,142,023; Leenslag et al. Makromol. Chem. 1987, 188, 1809-1814; Witzke et al. Macromolecules 1997, 30, 7075-7085). Accordingly, the polylactide resin prepared from the ring opening polymerization tends to have a decreased molecular weight, a broadened molecular weight distribution, and an increased amount of remaining monomers, all of which can have an undesirable effect on the polymer properties. Also, the ring opening polymerization using such catalyst can achieve only a limited level of conversion rate.
"In other words, the ring opening polymerization of the lactide as described above is a reaction involving a thermodynamic equilibrium between the monomers and the polymer, wherein the conversion rate to the polylactide resin increases at the beginning as the polymerization time passes, but the reaction reaches some degree of equilibrium when the conversion rate no longer increases. This also means that the resulting polylactide resin after the polymerization essentially contains a certain amount of the monomer therein. Generally, it has been known that as the reaction temperature becomes higher, the amount of the monomer at the equilibrium state increases, while the reverse holds true as the reaction temperature is reduced. Not only do the monomers remaining in the polylactide resin after the polymerization have detrimental effects on the mechanical properties of the resin, but they also tend to be hydrated, causing corrosion at the time of processing, and can accelerate the decomposition via the depolymerization of the resin. Accordingly, controlling the amount of the monomer remaining after the polymerization is very critical.
"Due to the foregoing drawbacks, even when using the ring opening polymerization previously known in the art, it is difficult to obtain a polylactide resin with a sufficiently high molecular weight and excellent mechanical properties at a high conversion rate because of the depolymerization. Moreover, in their use, the polylactide resins suffered the decomposition caused by the monomers and the catalyst remaining therein, which in turn brought about serious problems in their properties, such as hydrolysis resistance, heat resistance, and the like. Such problems have hindered efforts to apply the polylactide resins for a semi-permanent use, such as for exterior materials of the cell phones and interior materials of vehicles.
"Meanwhile, attempts have been made to suppress the depolymerization or the decomposition of the polylactide resin and to obtain polylactide resins having a higher molecular weight and excellent mechanical properties at a high conversion rate.
"First, there was an attempt to carry out ring opening polymerization using a Sn-containing catalyst, wherein an amine-based proton trapping agent was added in order to prevent the depolymerization. However, even with this measure, which could prevent the acid from lowering the catalytic activity or causing a hydrolysis of the resin to some extent, it was found that the depolymerization still proceeded and it was difficult to obtain polylactide resins having a high molecular weight and excellent mechanical properties. (Majerska et al. Macromol Rapid Commun 2000, 21, 1327-1332;
"In addition, some recent reports revealed that the polymerization activity and the molecular weight increase when the lactides are polymerized by using a Sn(Oct).sub.2.P(Ph).sub.3 compound coordinated by a phosphine compound. Expectedly, this was due to the fact that electrons in the Sn-containing catalyst were localized by the phosphine and thereafter the coordination of the lactide monomers was induced faster (see U.S. Pat. No. 6,166,169; Degee et al. Journal Polymer Science Part A; Polymer chemistry 1999, 37, 2413-2420; Degee et al Macromol. Symp. 1999, 144, 289-302). Also, U.S. Pat. No. 5,338,822 discloses a method of preventing the depolymerization wherein the resin melt obtained from the lactide polymerization was subjected to a post-treatment by adding a phosphite-based antioxidant thereto.
"However, even with those methods, it was difficult to obtain a polylactide resin with a high molecular weight and excellent mechanical properties at a high conversion rate, and it was difficult to sufficiently prevent the depolymerization or the decomposition of the resin during its use caused by the catalyst or the monomer. Therefore, the polylactide resins have failed to have a satisfactory level of hydrolysis resistance or heat resistance."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "Thus, the present invention is to provide an organometallic complex and a catalyst composition that can be preferably used as a catalyst in a ring opening polymerization of lactide monomers to produce a polylactide resin with enhanced properties such as mechanical properties, heat resistance, and hydrolysis resistance at a high conversion rate.
"Further, the present invention is to provide a process for preparing the organometallic complex.
"Further, the present invention is to provide a polylactide resin with a higher molecular weight and excellent mechanical properties, wherein the depolymerization or the decomposition in its use is also suppressed so that the resin shows better hydrolysis resistance and heat resistance.
"The present invention is to further provide a process for preparing a polylactide resin, which uses the organometallic complex or the catalyst composition and makes it possible to produce the polylactide resin at a high conversion rate.
"Moreover, the present invention is to provide a polylactide resin composition including the polylactide.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
"FIG. 1 shows a .sup.13C NMR spectrum for the organometallic complex of Synthesis Example 2.
"FIG. 2 shows curves plotting a change in the conversion rate to the polylactide resin as the ring opening polymerization time passes, in Examples 4 and 5 and Comparative Examples 1 and 2.
"FIG. 3 shows curves plotting a change in the weight average molecular weight of the polylactide resin as the ring opening polymerization time passes, in Examples 4 and 5 and Comparative Examples 1 and 2.
"FIG. 4 shows curves illustrating the results of thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) for the polylactide resin as prepared in Examples 6 and 9 and Comparative Example 1."
For additional information on this patent application, see: Yoon, Sung-Cheol; Lee, In-Su; Kim, Seong-Woo; Park, Seung-Young. Polylactide Resin and Preparation Method Thereof. Filed
Keywords for this news article include:
Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC
Most Popular Stories
- 5 Notable Hispanic Technology Executives
- Top Hispanic Tech Companies Push for the Top
- Visa, MasterCard Team Up to Focus on Payment Security
- Russia, Crimea Discuss Referendum
- China Urges Malaysia Flight Emergency Response
- Taco Bell Rings Up Breakfast Menu
- Sunday Starts Daylight Saving Time
- Three Americans on Missing Malaysia Airlines Plane: State Department
- For Obama, a Last Stab at Improving Ties with Capitol Hill
- Samsung Launches Milk Music