The rheological and structural properties of blends of polyethylene with paraffin wax
Winters, Ian Douglas
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This research addresses and illuminates a little understood region of miscible polymer mixtures and demonstrates a new means of separating wax from such blends. The method, termed Deformation Induced Phase Segregation potentially eliminates need of toxic processing solvents for wax removal or recovery in these types of blends. Previous theories of polymer combinations address them exclusively as solutions or as blends, two independent classes having very different behaviors. This study provides bridge connecting these two classes by identifying crossover points between them and the behaviors exhibited therein. The blends of this form were found to be semi-miscible, forming a homogenous phase in the melt but a two-phase system in the solid, with the rheological behavior influenced by the polymer's molecular weight and architecture. It also demonstrates practical promise of this regime by introducing a mechanical compression process to separate the wax phase from such a type of blend. This process potentially permits production of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMwPE) films and fibers by melt processing, thereby obviating need of otherwise essential but expensive and environmentally unfriendly toxic solvents.