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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19107

Title: Rheology of Foaming Polymers and its Influence on Microcellular Processing
Authors: Wang, Jing
Advisor: Park, Chul B.
James, David F.
Department: Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Keywords: polymer
rheology
foam
biodegradable
Issue Date: 23-Feb-2010
Abstract: The rheological properties of polymer melts and polymer/blowing agent (BA) solutions are determined experimentally and the influences of material rheological properties and crystallization on low-density foaming behaviour of polylactic acid (PLA) are investigated. Understanding the rheological properties of foaming polymers allows the optimization of polymer chemical structure and the development of technologies that produce desired cell morphologies. Although the technology for producing CO2-blown polystyrene (PS) foams is well established, the rheological properties of a PS/CO2 solution, especially its extensional property, are not well understood. In this study, these properties are determined with an in-house developed, online technique, and the measured data are compared with those from commercial rheometers. The online measurement system consists of a tandem foam extrusion system and a die for measuring pressure drops. Shear viscosity is determined from the pressure drop over a straight rectangular channel, while planar extensional viscosity from the pressure drop over a thin hyperbolic channel, taking into account the pressure drop due to shearing. Measured viscosities of the polystyrene without CO2 compare well with those from commercial rheometers. With the presence of dissolved CO2, both the shear and extensional viscosities of the polystyrene are significantly reduced. The influence of CO2 on the two viscosities is found to be similar to an increase of temperature. Polylactic acid is the first mass-produced biodegradable polymer, and has potential to replace petroleum-based polymers in foaming applications. In this study, the influences of material rheological properties and crystallization on the low-density, microcellular extrusion foaming behaviour of polylactic acids (PLAs) are investigated. Comparisons are made between linear and branched PLAs and between amorphous and crystalline PLAs. The branched PLAs are found to produce foams with higher expansion ratios and reduced open-cell content compared to the linear PLA. The foaming behaviour of the linear PLA, then, is significantly improved by adding a small amount of long-chain-branched PLA. The improved cell structure with branched PLAs is attributed to their relatively high melt strength and strain to break. For the first time, it is shown that crystallization, induced by cooling and macroscopic flow during processing, increases melt strength, which aids the production of low-density foams.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19107
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering - Doctoral theses

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