Complete stereo-complexation of enantiomeric polylactides for scalable continuous production

Gangwei Pan, Helan Xu, Bingnan Mu, Bomou Ma, Jing Yang, Yiqi Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


A facile and clean technology for stereo-complexation of polylactides (PLAs) shows potential to be readily incorporated into continuous industrial processes for manufacture of films, fibers and other plastic products. Using this approach, complete stereo-complexation of high-molecular-weight PLAs could be achieved via simple thermal treatment, rendering the production of durable PLA commodities inexpensive and industrially scalable. Currently, due to their high susceptibility to water and heat, PLA products have restricted industrial applications, and cannot compete with their petroleum-derived counterparts. Stereo-complexation of poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and poly(D-lactic acid) (PDLA) could effectively decrease water and heat sensitivity of common PLLA products. However, many stereo-complexation processes required harmful solvents or nucleating agents, and thus, were costly, complicated, and had low potential for short-term industrialization. Moreover, complete stereo-complexation was mostly achieved for PLAs with weight-average molecular weight lower than 1 × 105. In this research, PLLA and PDLA both with viscosity-average molecular weight of 3 × 105 were completely stereo-complexed (sc) via simple thermal treatment. Comparing to PLLA fibers, sc-PLA fibers had softening points 60 °C higher, and their thermal and hydrolytic stability significantly enhanced. Relationship among temperature of thermal treatment, degree of stereo-complexation and performance properties of sc-PLA fibers were also established. This clean technology makes possible industrial-scale production of commercializable biobased plastics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-767
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - 2017


  • Continuous process
  • Hydrolysis resistant
  • Polylactic acid
  • Polylactide
  • Softening temperature
  • Stereo-complexation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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