Compatibilization of Polymer Blends


Most polymer combinations do not mix well. They phase separate, creating large domains of homopolymers with weak interfaces between them. This problem can be solved through the use of compatibilizers - copolymers of the two homopolymers that can bridge the interfaces and enhance the strength of the blend. Few compatibilizers exist for polysaccharide-based polymers due to synthetic difficulties in making copolymers. 


Researchers at Virginia Tech have developed a  novel method to make copolymers based on polysaccharides and various synthetic polymers. These copolymers are then used at low concentrations to compatibilize blends between renewable, polysaccharide-based, and synthetic polymers. The compatibilized polymer blends combine the desirable characteristics of the polysaccharide and synthetic components of which they are made up.   


Benefits of new materials  include:

  • enhanced mechanical properties and physical mixing 
  • strength of polysaccharide of cellulose-based polymers and toughness of synthetic polymers
  • various potential applications including packaging, optical films, or any other applications where tough film is required. 

Compatibilization of 50:50 blends increases modulus from 820 MPa to 1200 Mpa and strain at break from 2% to 5%

Compatibilization of 80:20 blends increases strain at break from 7% to 19% without affecting modulus

80:20 blend photographed in the lab during tensile testing

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Elizabeth Garami
Associate Director
Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc.
John Matson
Kyle Arrington
Kevin Edgar
Junyi Chen