The aim of this work is the analysis of the suitability of cardanol derivatives as primary plasticizer for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Cardanol derived plasticizers (CDP) were obtained by acetylation of cardanol, followed by epoxidation of the side chain double bonds. The developed procedures allowed to achieve high yields of acetylated cardanol, whereas plasticizers characterized by different yields of epoxidation were obtained, according to the used synthesis procedure. Rheological analysis was used in order to study the gelation process of PVC plastisols with CDP. A comparison of commercial phthalate and natural derived plasticizers showed that the CDP are characterized by adequate gelation properties, involving a complete absorption of the plasticizers at relatively low temperatures. The gelation properties showed a strong dependence on the yield of the epoxidation. In particular, lower gelation temperatures, higher plasticizer absorption and faster gelation were observed for higher epoxy content in the plasticizer. Finally, ageing tests were performed on soft PVC produced by the CDP. The weight loss of soft PVC with CDP is comparable to that of commercial plasticizers, particularly at high yields of epoxidation.
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