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Long-term properties of polyethylene films : efficiency of a natural antioxidant

by Strandberg, Clara

Abstract (Summary)
There is a growing awareness of the risks of pollution in biological systems and one potential problem is the synthetic antioxidants, used for e.g. the stabilisation of polymeric materials. Natural antioxidants are an interesting alternative, if the high efficiency and thermal stability of the synthetic compounds can be reached. In the work described in this thesis, vitamin E (alfa-tocopherol) was studied as a natural antioxidant for the stabilisation of one of the major plastics, polyethylene (PE). The dependence of the surrounding environment for the efficiency of alfa-tocopherol in polyethylene (PE), throughout thermal aging, was characterised by sensitive techniques. Two techniques which have shown a high sensitivity in oxidation detection of polymers; chemiluminescence (CL) and gas chromatographic analysis, were compared with the commonly used methods, infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and thermal analysis.Three different additive systems were selected as active domains for ?-tocopherol in PE. Two of these contained carboxylic acid groups, poly (ethylene-co-acrylic acid) (EAA) and polyTRIM/PAA core-shell particles (Core), and the third, oat starch, had no such groups. The additives containing carboxylic groups improved the long-term efficiency of alfa-tocopherol in PE, according to carbonyl index measurements made by FT-IR, while the additive without carboxylic acid groups gave no improvement. The amount of carboxylic acids emitted from the materials after thermal aging, assessed by head-space solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS), also showed that EAA increased the antioxidant efficiency of alfa-tocopherol, whereas the Core system showed lower antioxidant efficiency. Reference systems containing the synthetic antioxidant Irganox 1076 and EAA or oat starch had the same performance as the materials stabilised with only the antioxidants.CL measurements in an inert atmosphere (TLI) have earlier been shown to give earlier oxidation detection than carbonyl index measurements in unstabilised PE. In this work, the TLI analysis and the carbonyl index measurements had the same sensitivity in the detection of oxidation in the stabilised materials.Assessment of low-molecular weight carboxylic acids in PE during the aging was made by gas chromatographic analysis together with solid-phase extraction. Propanoic acid showed the best correlation with the carbonyl index measurements, even if the carbonyl index showed earlier detection of oxidation.It was also found that TLI and CL in an oxidative atmosphere (CL-OIT) had the same sensitivity and were in accordance for all of the materials, with exception of the materials containing EAA and alfa-tocopherol or Irganox 1076. CL-OIT was also compared to the oxygen induction time determined by thermal analysis.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Kungliga Tekniska högskolan

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:Polymer Technology; alfa-tocopherol; Polyethylene (PE); Thermal aging; Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR); Chemiluminescence (CL); Solid-phase microextraction (SPME)

ISBN:91-7178-357-1

Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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