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POLYOLEFIN – WE EXPLAIN

POLYOLEFINS FOR YOU

March 26th, 2017 | By Ulf Nobbmann

WHAT ARE POLYOLEFIN POLYMERS?


Polyolefins are macromolecules formed by the polymerization of olefin monomer units. The
IUPAC nomenclature term is poly (alkene). The most common polyolefins are
polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). These polymers are prevalent in a wide array of
applications depending on the material characteristics of the polymer, most notably
consumer plastic. Molecular properties like molecular weight (MW) distribution and
branching are fundamental and related to parameters such as material fatigue, impact
strength, and resistance to degradation. These properties are therefore routinely assessed as
part of research and development (R&D) as well as for quality control and assurance (QC,
QA).

COMMON TYPES OF POLYOLEFIN


POLYMERS
Polyolefins polymers are some of the most prevalent plastics used today and come in various
types
 Polyethylene (PE) with subgroups

o high-density HDPE

o low-density LDPE

o linear low-density LLDPE

 Polypropylene (PP)
 Ehylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber

The table below gives a glimpse of the wide-scale distribution of these materials, ranging
from everyday household use to specialized industrial applications. Most take advantage of
the resistance to heat and an array of common solvents, making the materials economical for
many tough high wear materials.

Table of common Polyolefins and typical uses

Polymer Type Symbol Examples of use

HDPE
♴ fuel tanks, bottle caps, plastic bottles

LDPE
♶ liquid containers, tubing, plastic wrap

PP
♷ piping, carpet, roofing, hinges, auto parts

EPDM seals, electrical insulation, roofing

POLYOLEFIN MELTING P OINT


Polyolefins are typically dissolved in high-boiling solvents, such as 1,2,4-trichlorobenzene
(TCB), 1,2-dichlorobenzene (ODCB) or decahydronaphthalene (decalin), at temperatures
from 130 – 160 °C. Molecular Weight characterizations needs can sometimes be met with
simple Ubbelohde intrinsic viscosity data or melt flow index determinations. For advanced
characterization, high-temperature Gel Permeation Chromatography HT-GPC is used to
compare different branching agents, to predict performance and to correlate with rheology
results. Molecular Weight (MW), a radius of gyration (RG), and Mark-Houwink constants
are often of interest. Some low molecular weight or oligomeric polyolefins may be (partially)
soluble in xylenes and other organic solvents which allows for analysis of % monomer or %
xylene-soluble fraction. These characteristics have a direct correlation to the physical
properties, like flexibility & strength, of the final material.