This work is aimed to the development and property optimization of cardanol derived plasticizers. To this purpose, different plasticizers were produced though different epoxidation routes, characterized by low toxicological and environmental impact. The plasticizers are characterized by different yield of epoxidation of the alkyl chain double bonds. The properties of the cardanol derived plasticizers were compared to the properties of commercial plasticizers, either phthalates or natural derived. Mechanical properties of soft PVC plasticized by cardanol derivatives were shown to be comparable to those of PVC with commercial plasticizers. The plasticizing efficiency of cardanol derivatives was significantly improved by increasing the yield of epoxidation. Also, mechanical properties performed after ageing showed the excellent stability of the properties of the cardanol derived plasticizer characterized by the higher yield. Evaluation of the property retention index after ageing indicated that such plasticizers showed an improved stability of properties compared to other commercial plasticizer. The results obtained highlight the relevance of an high conversion of the double bonds into epoxies in order to produce high quality plasticizers.
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