Characterization, optimization and modelling of PE blends for pipe applications
thesisposted on 22.03.2010, 09:52 by Abdoul Ali Al-Shamrani
Bimodal polyethylene resins are frequently used for pipe applications. In this work, blending was used to produce polyethylenes with comparable properties, particularly with respect to processing, stress crack resistance and tensile properties. Suitable blend components were identified, and their performance screened used ECHIP experimental design software. Blends were characterized using gel permeation chromatography (GPC), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), tensile testing, stress crack resistance measurements, impact toughness testing, capillary rheometry and melt index measurements. GPC, DSC and melt index results reveal that the method of meltcompounding produced morphologically uniform blends, with different degrees of compatibility depending on the type and level of branching of blend components. Most of the blends produced showed higher crystallinity values compared to a reference bimodal resin. Binary high density polyethylene (HDPE) blends showed better stiffness and strength properties, whereas metallocene catalyzed linear low density polyethylene (mLLDPE) containing blends illustrated superior elongation and toughness properties compared to the reference polymer and other binary blends. The highest resistance to slow crack growth (SCG) was shown by low density polyethylene (LDPE) and mLLDPE containing blends due to their high branching content. The overall blend resistance to SCG or toughness can be enhanced with levels less than 20% by weight of LDPE or mLLDPE in the blend although the tensile properties are relatively unaffected at these low concentrations. The performance of blends was optimized by changing component polymers and their weight fractions, and a model to predict optimum blends was developed using the Maple code. Optimized blends showed higher branching content, comparable molecular weight, molecular weight distribution, tensile properties, viscosity and processing behaviour to the reference polymer. Optimized blend 3, in particular, encountered the same degree of shear thinning as the reference material. Better toughness and resistance to SCG were shown by the optimized blends when compared to the reference polymer.
- Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering