{1387} revision 0 modified: 04-15-2017 06:06 gmt

Enhancement of resistance of polyethylene to seawater-promoted degradation by surface modification

  • Polyethylene, when repeatedly stressed and exposed to seawater (e.g. ships' ropes), undergoes mechanical and chemical degradation.
  • Surface treatments of the polyethlyene can improve resistance to this degradation.
  • The author studied two methods of surface treatment:
    • Plasma (glow discharge, air) followed by diacid (adipic acid) or triisocyanate (DM100, = ?) co-polymerization
    • Electron irradiation with 500 kEV electrons.
  • Also mention CASING (crosslinking by activated species of inert gasses) as a popular method of surface treatment.
    • Diffuse-in crosslinkers is a third, popular these days ...
    • Others diffuse in at temperature e.g. a fatty acid - derived molecule, which is then bonded to e.g. heparin to reduce the thrombogenicity of a plastic.
  • Measured surface modifications via ATR IR (attenuated total reflectance, IR) and ESCA (aka XPS)
    • Expected results, carbonyl following the air glow discharge ...
  • Results:
    • Triisocyanate, ~ 6x improvement
    • diacid, ~ 50 x improvement.
    • electron irradiation, no apparent degradation!
      • Author's opinion that this is due to carbon-carbon crosslink leading to mechanical toughening (hmm, evidence?)
  • Quote: since the PE formulation studied here was low-weight, it was expected to lose crystallinity upon cyclic flexing; high density PE's have in fact been observed to become more crystalline with working.
    • Very interesting, kinda like copper. This could definitely be put to good use.
  • Low density polyethylene has greater chain branching and entanglement than high-density resins; when stressed the crystallites are diminished in total bulk, degrading tensile properties ... for high-density resins, mechanical working loosens up the structure enough to allow new crystallization to exceed stress-induced shrinkage of crystallites; hence, the crystallinity increases.