The influence of the comonomer content in a series of metallocene-based ethylene-1-octene copolymers (m-LLDPE) on thermo-mechanical, rheological, and thermo-oxidative behaviours during melt processing were examined using a range of characterisation techniques. The amount of branching was calculated from 13C NMR and studies using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) were employed to determine the effect of short chain branching (SCB, comonomer content) on thermal and mechanical characteristics of the polymer. The effect of melt processing at different temperatures on the thermo-oxidative behaviour of the polymers was investigated by examining the changes in rheological properties, using both melt flow and capillary rheometry, and the evolution of oxidation products during processing using infrared spectroscopy. The results show that the comonomer content and catalyst type greatly affect thermal, mechanical and oxidative behaviour of the polymers. For the metallocene polymer series, it was shown from both DSC and DMA that (i) crystallinity and melting temperatures decreased linearly with comonomer content, (ii) the intensity of the ß-transition increased, and (iii) the position of the tan δmax peak corresponding to the a-transition shifted to lower temperatures, with higher comonomer content. In contrast, a corresponding Ziegler polymer containing the same level of SCB as in one of the m-LLDPE polymers, showed different characteristics due to its more heterogeneous nature: higher elongational viscosity, and a double melting peak with broader intensity that occurred at higher temperature (from DSC endotherm) indicating a much broader short chain branch distribution. The thermo-oxidative behaviour of the polymers after melt processing was similarly influenced by the comonomer content. Rheological characteristics and changes in concentrations of carbonyl and the different unsaturated groups, particularly vinyl, vinylidene and trans-vinylene, during processing of m-LLDPE polymers, showed that polymers with lower levels of SCB gave rise to predominantly crosslinking reactions at all processing temperatures. By contrast, chain scission reactions at higher processing temperatures became more favoured in the higher comonomer-containing polymers. Compared to its metallocene analogue, the Ziegler polymer showed a much higher degree of crosslinking at all temperatures because of the high levels of vinyl unsaturation initially present.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||Polymer Degradation and Stability|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2006|
- olefin copolymers
- thermal oxidation
- short chain branching