Polylactic Acid (PLA) is the first viable thermoplastic that can be produced from a plant-based feedstock such as corn or sugar cane, and yet be processed by the conventional melt processing technologies. At the same time, Polylactic Acid is produced at the largest industrial scale of all biodegradable polymers. It is being used in biomedical applications, for bottle production and in compostable food packaging. It is also being evaluated as a material for tissue engineering. Mass production has tremendously reduced the cost of PLA production, making it an economically viable choice for fabrication of domestic containers, plastic bags, and fibers. Commercial-scale plants today produce hundreds of thousand tons of PLA per year.

This book provides a practical guide for the engineers and scientists involved in working with PLA and developing the many new products that are emerging for this important biopolymer. The current market situation for PLA and biodegradable polymers is described as well as applications across a range of market sectors, and the mechanical, chemical, thermal, rheology, and degradation properties of PLA.

Key Features

  • An essential reference for engineers, scientists and product designers considering switching to a sustainable plastic.
  • Covers the properties, synthesis and polymerization of PLA, and processing techniques involved in fabricating parts from this polymer.


Institutions of higher education, biodegradable companies and research institutes, government institutions involved in reduction of plastic waste, environment organisations; Institutions of readership: ICheme, IUPAC, IMechE, Society of Plastic Engineers

Table of Contents

  • 1. Overview of Poly(lactic Acid)
    • 1.1 Background to Biodegradable Polymers
    • 1.2 Market Potential of Biodegradable Polymers and PLA
    • 1.3 General Properties and Applications of PLA
    • 1.4 Environmental Profile of PLA
    • 1.5 Ecoprofile of PLA in Mass Production
    • 1.6 Environmental Impact of PLA at the Post-Consumer Stage
    • 1.7 Conclusion
    • References
  • 2. Synthesis and Production of Poly(lactic Acid)
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 Lactic Acid Production
    • 2.3 Lactide and Poly(lactic Acid) Production
    • 2.4 Conclusion
    • References
  • 3. Thermal Properties of Poly(lactic Acid)
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 Thermal Transition and Crystallization of PLA
    • 3.3 Thermal Decomposition
    • 3.4 Heat Capacity, Thermal Conductivity and Pressure–Volume–Temperature of PLA
    • 3.5 Conclusion
    • References
  • 4. Chemical Properties of Poly(lactic Acid)
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.2 Stereochemistry of Poly(lactic Acid)
    • 4.3 Analytical Technique of PLA
    • 4.4 Solubility and Barrier Properties of PLA
    • 4.5 Conclusion
    • References
  • 5. Mechanical Properties of Poly(lactic Acid)
    • 5.1 Introduction
    • 5.2 Effect of Crystallinity and Molecular Weight on Mechanical Properties of PLA
    • 5.3 Effect of Modifier/Plasticizer on PLA
    • 5.4 Polymer Blends of PLA
    • 5.5 Conclusion
    • References
  • 6. Rheological Properties of Poly(lactic Acid)
    • 6.1 Introduction
    • 6.2 Rheological Properties of Poly(lactic Acid)
    • 6.3 Effects of Molecular Weight
    • 6.4 Effects of Branching
    • 6.5 Extensional Viscosity
    • 6.6 Solution Viscosity of PLA
    • 6.7 Rheological Properties of Polymer Blends
    • 6.8 Conclusion
    • References<


No. of pages:
© 2013
William Andrew
eBook ISBN:
Print ISBN:

About the authors

Lee Tin Sin

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Science, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Malaysia

A. R. Rahmat

Affiliations and Expertise

Associate Professor, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Malaysia

W. A. W. A. Rahman

Affiliations and Expertise

Associate Professor, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Malaysia