Blends of polyester ionomers with polar polymers: Interactions, reactions, and compatibilization
The compatibility of amorphous and semicrystalline polyester ionomers with various polar polymers (i.e., polyesters and polyamides) has been investigated for their potential use as minor component compatibilizers. The degree of compatibility (i.e., ranging from incompatible to miscible) between the polyester ionomers and the polar polymers was determined by evaluating the effect of blend composition on the melting behavior and phase behavior of binary blends. In addition, the origin of compatibility and/or incompatibility for each of the binary blends (i.e., polyamide/ionomer and polyester/ionomer) was determined by evaluating blends prepared by both solution and melt mixed methods. Subsequent to investigation of the binary blends, the effect of polyester ionomer addition on the compatibility of polyamide/polyester blends was investigated by evaluating the mechanical properties and phase morphology of ionomer compatibilized polyamide/polyester blends. Polyester ionomers (amorphous and semicrystalline) were shown to exhibit a high degree of compatibility (even miscibility) with polyamides, such as nylon 6,6 (N66). Compatibility was attributed to specific interactions between the metal counterion of the polyester ionomer and the amide groups of N66. The degree of compatibility (or miscibility) was shown to be dependent on the counterion type of the ionomer, with the highest degree exhibited by blends containing the divalent form of the polyester ionomers. Although polyester ionomers were shown to exhibit incompatibility with both poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) and poly(butylene terephthalate) (PBT), increasing the time of melt processing significantly enhanced the compatibility of the polyester ionomers with both PET and PBT. The observed enhancement in compatibility was attributed to ester-ester interchange between the polyester blend components, which was confirmed by NMR spectroscopy. The addition of polyester ionomers as a minor component compatibilizer (i.e., 2 to 5 wt%) resulted in significant enhancement in the impact strength and a dramatic improvement in the tensile properties compared to uncompatibilized blends of nylon 6,6 (N66) with poly(butylene terephthalate) (PBT). This behavior was attributed to an increase in the interfacial adhesion between the phase-separated domains due to strong interactions between the polyester ionomer and N66. The placement of the ionomer compatibilizer at the N66/PBT interface was facilitated by pre-extrusion of the polyester ionomer with PBT, prior to extrusion with N66.