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Pure Appl. Chem., 2007, Vol. 79, No. 9, pp. 1541-1551

Future directions for the research and development of polyesters: From high-performance to environmentally friendly

Toru Yamanaka, Hiroyuki Ohme and Toshihide Inoue

Chemicals Research Laboratories, Toray Industries, Inc. 9-1, Oe-cho, Minato-ku, Nagoya 455-8502, Japan

Abstract: We discuss the future directions for the research and development of polyester-based materials. In the discussion of polyesters as industrial materials, one direction is the development of high-performance materials. Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), known as one of the most important polyesters, was developed early in the 1940s. We discuss two approaches to the development of high-performance materials suitable for injection-molding applications using PET units. The first approach is development of high-performance materials by copolymerization with bibenzoic acid (BB), which has a rigid structure, and the second approach is development of liquid-crystal polyesters (LCPs) with superior thermal resistance and excellent flowability using PET units. The other future direction for research and development is the targeting of environmentally friendly materials. Poly(lactic acid) (PLA), derived from bio-based materials, is a very important material because it can realize the carbon neutral cycles. Nevertheless, the practical properties of PLA itself are unsatisfactory compared to other plastics derived from fossil resources. We have developed PLA-based polymer alloys with various practical properties by utilizing a newly developed nanoalloy technology.