Supercritical fluid processing of natural based polymers doped with ionic liquids

M. Martins, Rita Craveiro, Alexandre Paiva, Ana Rita C Duarte, Rui L. Reis

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Some approaches have been developed in our group to investigate the role of novel ionic liquids as process and property modifiers of natural-based polymers. In our previous work, we proposed the use of ionic liquids as plasticizing agents for the creation of porous structures from a semi-crystalline natural-based polymer. The current work intended to complement the previous studies, evaluating the ability of ionic liquid (IL) to plasticize polymers such as blends of starch-poly-lactic acid (SPLA) and its effect on supercritical fluid foaming process (SCF) and providing more insights on the mechanisms involved. For this purpose, blends of starch with poly (lactic) acid, with different ratios of starch and poly-lactic acid of 50:50 and 30:70 were modified and processed using 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ([bmim]Cl). Supercritical fluid foaming was studied at different soaking times (1, 3 and 6h) using carbon dioxide at 20.0MPa and 40°C. The blends were characterized by different techniques, such as infra-red spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry and compression and tensile mechanical analysis. The morphology of the foamed structures was analyzed by scanning electron microscopy and micro-computed tomography. The results suggest that after 3h of soaking time an equilibrium state of carbon dioxide into the bulk samples is attained, yielding structures with 6% and 15% of porosity, for SPLA70 and SPLA50 respectively. The solubility of carbon dioxide within the matrices was studied for the same conditions and the results demonstrate a higher sorption degree in the samples doped with ionic liquid. Sorption and desorption diffusion coefficients of supercritical CO2 in the SPLA matrix were determined for the raw polymer and for the SPLA doped with [bmim]Cl. It was found that the lower desorption diffusion coefficients are related with the higher porosity obtained by the foaming process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-130
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Ionic liquids
  • Poly (lactic acid)
  • Polymer processing
  • Starch
  • Supercritical fluid foaming


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