Journal of the Serbian Chemical Society 2012 Volume 77, Issue 8, Pages: 1071-1082
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Solvent-free preparation of polylactic acid fibers by melt electrospinning using umbrella-like spray head and alleviation of problematic thermal degradation

Liu Yong, Zhao Fengwen, Zhang Chi, Zhang Jianming, Yang Weimin

Melt electrospinning is an even simpler and safer method compared with the solution electrospinning in the production of ultra-fine fibers. Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biodegradable and resorbable aliphatic ester that has received significant attention in recent years. PLA is easily degradable at high temperature in the process of melt electrospinning. High efficient fibers were made using our designed umbrella-like spray head spinning facility in this work. To find how to alleviate the problematic degradation and what factors could be relevant to degradation, temperature, relative molecular mass, Differential Scanning Calorimeter and X-ray Diffraction patterns before and after spinning were investigated and compared with each other. Results showed that fibers were facile shorten and fractured when spun at 245°C while the relative molecular mass of PLA fibers decreased markedly as compared with that spun at 210°C. To hinder the degradation, couple of experimental efforts were implemented with adding antioxidants, raising spinning voltage, lowering temperature, and reducing residence time. After such efforts, it was observed that the relative molecular mass of the PLA fibers was higher than those without inputting any efforts. The effect of antioxidant 1010 was found the most promising on the alleviation of PLA problematic thermal degradation.

Keywords: PLA fibers, melt electrospinning, X-ray diffraction, antioxidants