Combining polyethylene and polypropylene: Enhanced performance with PE/PP multiblock polymers.

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Science (New York, N.Y.), ISSN: 1095-9203, Vol: 355, Issue: 6327, Page: 814-816

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Eagan, James M; Xu, Jun; Di Girolamo, Rocco; Thurber, Christopher M; Macosko, Christopher W; LaPointe, Anne M; Bates, Frank S; Coates, Geoffrey W
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
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article description
Polyethylene (PE) and isotactic polypropylene (PP) constitute nearly two-thirds of the world's plastic. Despite their similar hydrocarbon makeup, the polymers are immiscible with one another. Thus, common grades of PE and PP do not adhere or blend, creating challenges for recycling these materials. We synthesized PE/PP multiblock copolymers using an isoselective alkene polymerization initiator. These polymers can weld common grades of commercial PE and PP together, depending on the molecular weights and architecture of the block copolymers. Interfacial compatibilization of phase-separated PE and PP with tetrablock copolymers enables morphological control, transforming brittle materials into mechanically tough blends.