Development of a novel pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry method for the analysis of poly(lactic acid) thermal degradation products

Autores UPV
Revista Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis


Thermal degradation of PLA is a complex process since it comprises many simultaneous reactions. The use of analytical techniques, such as differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetry (TGA), yields useful information but a more sensitive analytical technique would be necessary to identify and quantify the PLA degradation products. In this work the thermal degradation of PLA at high temperatures was studied by using a pyrolyzer coupled to a gas chromatograph with mass spectrometry detection (Py-GC/MS). Pyrolysis conditions (temperature and time) were optimized in order to obtain an adequate chromatographic separation of the compounds formed during heating. The best resolution of chromatographic peaks was obtained by pyrolyzing the material from room temperature to 600 ◦C during 0.5 s. These conditions allowed identifying and quantifying the major compounds produced during the PLA thermal degradation in inert atmosphere. The strategy followed to select these operation parameters was by using sequential pyrolysis based on the adaptation of mathematical models. By application of this strategy it was demonstrated that PLA is degraded at high temperatures by following a non-linear behaviour. The application of logistic and Boltzmann models leads to good fittings to the experimental results, despite the Boltzmann model provided the best approach to calculate the time at which 50% of PLA was degraded. In conclusion, the Boltzmann method can be applied as a tool for simulating the PLA thermal degradation.