Thermal insulation and mechanical properties of polylactic acid (PLA) at different processing conditions

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32 Citations (Scopus)


This work aims to provide an extensive evaluation on the use of polylactic acid (PLA) as a green, biodegradable thermal insulation material. The PLA was processed by melt extrusion followed by compression molding and then subjected to different annealing conditions. Afterwards, the thermal insulation properties and structural capacity of the PLA were characterized. Increasing the annealing time of PLA in the range of 0-24 h led to a considerable increase in the degree of crystallization, which had a direct impact on the thermal conductivity, density, and glass transition temperature. The thermal conductivity of PLA increased from 0.0643W/(mK) for quickly-cooled samples to 0.0904W/(mK) for the samples annealed for 24 h, while the glass transition temperature increased by approximately 11.33% to reach 59.0 °C. Moreover, the annealing process substantially improved the compressive strength and rigidity of the PLA and reduced its ductility. The results revealed that annealing PLA for 1-3 h at 90 °C produces an optimum thermal insulation material. The low thermal conductivity (0.0798-0.0865 W/(mK), low density (~1233 kg/m3), very low water retention (<0.19%) and high compressive strength (97.2-98.7 MPa) in this annealing time range are very promising to introduce PLA as a green insulation material.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2091
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Biopolymer
  • Green thermal insulator
  • Mechanical properties
  • Polylactic acid
  • Thermal properties
  • Water retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics


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