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Chp 5

Chp 5

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157
5
Corrosion of Polymer (Plastic) Materials
As discussed previously, metallic materials undergo a specic corrosion rateas a result o an electrochemical reaction. Because o this, it is possible topredict the lie o a metal when in contact with a corrodent under a given seto conditions. This is not the case with polymeric materials. Plastic materi-als do not experience a specic corrosion rate. They are usually completelyresistant to chemical attack or they deteriorate rapidly. They are attackedeither by chemical reaction or by solvation. Solvation is the penetration othe plastic by a corrodent, which causes sotening, swelling, and ultimateailure. Corrosion o plastics can be classied in the ollowing ways as to theattack mechanism:1. Disintegration or degradation o a physical nature due to absorption,permeation, solvent action, or other actors2. Oxidation, where chemical bonds are attacked3. Hydrolysis, where ester linkages are attacked4. Radiation5. Thermal degradation involving depolymerization and possiblyrepolymerization6. Dehydration (rather uncommon)7. Any combination o the aboveResults o such attacks will appear in the orm o sotening, charring, craz-ing, delamination, discoloration, dissolving, or swelling.The corrosion o polymer matrix composites is also aected by two otheractors: the nature o the laminate and, in the case o the thermoset resins,the cure. Improper or insucient cure time will adversely aect the cor-rosion resistance, whereas proper cure time and procedures will generallyimprove the corrosion resistance.All polymers are compounded. The nal product is produced to certainspecic properties or a specic application. When the corrosion resistance oa polymer is discussed, the data reerred to are that o the pure polymer. Inmany instances, other ingredients are blended with the polymer to enhancecertain properties, which in many cases reduce the ability o the polymer toresist attack o some media. Thereore it is essential to know the makeup oany polymer prior to its use.
© 2010 by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
 
158
Fundamentals of Corrosion
5.1 Radiation
Polymeric materials in outdoor applications are exposed to weatherextremes that can be extremely deleterious to the material, the most harm-ul o which is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can causeembrittlement, ading, surace cracking, and chalking. Most plastics, ater being exposed to direct sunlight or a period o years, exhibit reducedimpact resistance, lower overall mechanical perormance, and a changein appearance.The electromagnetic energy rom sunlight is normally divided into UVlight, visible light, and inrared energy. Inrared energy consists o wave-lengths longer than the visible red wavelengths, and starts above 760 nm.Visible light is dened as radiation between 400 and 760 nm. UV light con-sists o radiation below 400 nm. The UV portion o the spectrum is urthersubdivided into UV-A, UB-B, and UV-C. The eects o the various wave-length regions are shown below:
Ultraviolet Wavelength Regions
RegionWavelength(nm)Characteristics
UV-A400315Causes polymer damageUV-B315280Includes the shortest wavelengths at the Earths suraceCauses severe polymer damageAbsorbed by window glassUV-C280100Filtered by the Earths atmosphereFound only in outer space
Because UV is easily ltered by air masses, cloud cover, pollution, and otheractors, the amount and spectrum o natural UV exposure is extremely vari-able. Because the sun is lower in the sky during the winter months, it isltered through a greater air mass. This creates two important dierences between summer and winter sunlight: changes in the intensity o the lightand in the spectrum. During the winter months, much o the damagingshortwavelength UV light is ltered out. For example, the intensity o UV at320 nm changes about 8 to 1 rom summer to winter. In addition, the short-wavelength solar cut-o shits rom about 295 nm in summer to about 310nm in winter. As a result, materials sensitive to UV below 320 nm woulddegrade only slightly, i at all, during the winter months.Photochemical degradation is caused by photons o light breaking chemical bonds. For each type o chemical bond there is a critical threshold wavelengtho light with enough energy to cause a reaction. Light o any wavelength
© 2010 by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
 
Corrosion of Polymer (Plastic) Materials
159
shorter than the threshold can break the bond, but longer wavelengths olight cannot break it, regardless o their intensity (brightness). Thereore, theshort-wavelength cuto o a light source is o critical importance. I a par-ticular polymer is sensitive only to UV light below 295 nm (the solar cutopoint), it will never experience photochemical degradation outdoors.The ability to withstand weathering depends on the polymer type andwhich grades o a particular resin. Many resin grades are available withUV-absorbing additives to improve weatherability. However, the higher-molecular-weight grades o a resin generally exhibit better weatherabilitythan lower-molecular-weight grades with comparable additives. In addition,some colors tend to weather better than others. The resistance to UV degra-dation o selected polymers is shown below:
PolymerUVDegradationPolymerUVDegradationPolymerUVDegradation
ABSRSPEEKRSUHMWPERSCPVCRPEIREpoxyRECTFERPESRSPolyesters:ETFERPFAR Bis AumRSFEPRPIR HalogenatedRSHDPERSPPRS Bis ABis ARSPARPPSR IsophthalicRSPCRSPSFR TeraphthalicRSPCTFERPTFERVinyl esterRPVDCRPVCRFuranRSiliconeR
Note:
R = resistant, RS = resistant i stabilized with UV protector.
5.2 Permeation
All materials are somewhat permeable to chemical molecules, but plasticmaterials tend to be an order o magnitude greater in their permeability thanmetals. Gases, liquids, or vapors will permeate polymers.Permeation is a molecular migration through microvoids either in the poly-mer (i the polymer is more or less porous) or between polymer molecules. Inneither case is there any attack on the polymer. This action is strictly a physicalphenomenon. However, permeation can be detrimental when a polymer is usedto line piping or equipment. In lined equipment, permeation can result in:
© 2010 by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC

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