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    Crosslinked polyhydroxyurethane (PHU) networks synthesized from difunctional six‐membered cyclic carbonates and triamines are reprocessable at elevated temperatures through transcarbamoylation reactions. Here we study the structural effects on reprocessability and stress relaxation in crosslinked PHUs. Crosslinked PHUs derived frombis(five‐membered cyclic carbonates) are shown to decompose at temperatures needed for reprocessing, likely via initial reversion of the PHU linkage and subsequent side reactions of the liberated amine and cyclic carbonate. Therefore, several six‐membered cyclic carbonate‐based PHUs with varying polymer backbones and crosslink densities were synthesized. These networks show large differences in the Arrhenius activation energy of stress relaxation (from 99 to 136 kJ/mol) that depend on the network structure, suggesting that transcarbamoylation reactions may be highly affected by both chemical and mechanical effects. Furthermore, all crosslinked PHUs derived from six‐membered cyclic carbonates show mechanical properties typical of thermoset polymers, but recovered as much as 80% of their as‐synthesized tensile properties after elevated temperature compression molding. These studies provide significant insight into factors affecting the reprocessability of PHUs and inform design criteria for the future synthesis of sustainable and repairable crosslinked PHUs. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci.2017,134, 44984.

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  2. Management of the plastic industry is a momentous challenge, one that pits enormous societal benefits against an accumulating reservoir of nearly indestructible waste. A promising strategy for recycling polyethylene (PE) and isotactic polypropylene ( i PP), constituting roughly half the plastic produced annually worldwide, is melt blending for reformulation into useful products. Unfortunately, such blends are generally brittle and useless due to phase separation and mechanically weak domain interfaces. Recent studies have shown that addition of small amounts of semicrystalline PE- i PP block copolymers (ca. 1 wt%) to mixtures of these polyolefins results in ductility comparable to the pure materials. However, current methods for producing such additives rely on expensive reagents, prohibitively impacting the cost of recycling these inexpensive commodity plastics. Here, we describe an alternative strategy that exploits anionic polymerization of butadiene into block copolymers, with subsequent catalytic hydrogenation, yielding E and X blocks that are individually melt miscible with PE and i PP, where E and X are poly(ethylene- ran -ethylethylene) random copolymers with 6 wt% and 90 wt% ethylethylene repeat units, respectively. Cooling melt blended mixtures of PE and i PP containing 1 wt% of the triblock copolymer EXE of appropriate molecular weight, results in mechanical properties competitive with the component plastics. Blend toughness is obtained through interfacial topological entanglements of the amorphous X polymer and semicrystalline i PP, along with anchoring of the E blocks through cocrystallization with the PE homopolymer. Significantly, EXE can be inexpensively produced using currently practiced industrial scale polymerization methods, offering a practical approach to recycling the world’s top two plastics. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 22, 2024
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