Liquid chromatographic separation of olefin oligomers and its relation to separation of polyolefins - An overview
Linear and branched alkanes are oligomers of polyethylene. Alkanes with higher molar masses are called waxes. These substances are widely used as fuels, oils, lubricants, etc. and for these reasons many groups have tried to analyse, separate and characterise alkanes by various methods, including liquid chromatography. Alkanes may be separated according to their size in solution by SEC. In addition to chromatographic systems separating in the SEC mode, various sorbent-solvent systems have been published, where alkanes have been separated one from another by adsorption and/or precipitation mechanism. The mobile phase is either a nonpolar solvent or a polar solvent or a mixture of a solvent and a non-solvent for alkanes. Even near critical conditions, which have several advantages for applications of HPLC in polymer analysis, have been identified for alkanes. Moreover, selective separations of branched alkanes according to their structure have been published. In the majority of these published studies, solvents with low boiling points have been used as the mobile phases, which do not allow dissolution of crystalline polyolefins at atmospheric pressure. However, taking into account experiences with the separation of alkanes, new HPLC systems for the separation of polyolefins may be developed. This is a major challenge and first results are presented in this contribution. © 2009 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.