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Water vapour permeability of poly(lactic acid): crystallinity and the tortuous path model

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posted on 20.03.2014, 11:59 authored by Zhouyang Duan, Noreen Thomas
The water vapour transmission rates (WVTR) through samples of polylactic acid of different crystallinities have been measured. Three different grades of commercial poly(lactic acid) (PLA) were used with different ratios of L-lactide and D-lactide to give a range of crystallinities from 0% to 50%. Sheets of PLA were prepared by melt compounding followed by compression moulding and annealing at different temperatures and for different times to give the range of crystallinities required. Crystallinity was measured by differential scanning calorimetry and the morphology of the samples was observed under crossed polars in a transmitted light microscope. Water vapour transmission rates through the films were measured at 38 °C and at a relative humidity of 90%. It was found that the measured values of WVTR decreased linearly with increasing crystallinity of the PLA from 0% to 50%. The results are discussed in terms of the effect of crystallinity on solubility and shown to fit the “Tortuous Path Model.” The model was also successfully used to explain published data on water permeability of polyethylene terephthalate.


Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and PepsiCo International Ltd.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Materials


DUAN, Z. and THOMAS, N.L., 2014. Water vapour permeability of poly(lactic acid): crystallinity and the tortuous path model. Journal of Applied Physics, 115 (6), 064903, 9pp., doi:10.1063/1.4865168


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This article was published in the Journal of Applied Physics [© American Institute of Physics] and the definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4865168