Co-crystallization in polyolefin blends studied by various crystallization analysis techniques
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Co-crystallization is the phenomenon by which chains of different crystallizabilities crystallize at the same temperature. Co-crystallization is frequently observed in the blends of different types of polyethylene. It is believed that co-crystallization can occur due to the thermodynamically miscible parts of two components in the blends having similar crystallization rate. The study focused on the phenomenon of co-crystallization in polyethylene blends and how by varying the crystallization conditions the co-crystallization region will change. Three techniques have been used in this study. TREF was used to fractionate the polymers and blends. Each of the TREF fractions was studied using both DSC and CRYSTAF to determine whether the fraction contained both types of materials. It is shown that the difference in the crystallization fractionation mechanisms between TREF, CRYSTAF and DSC can be utilize to study co-crystallization effects in polyethylene blends. Results also shows that by varying the heating and cooling rate profiles in DSC and CRYSTAF the co-crystallization fractions will appeared as a single fraction or as two separate fractions. Further, it was demonstrated how the co-crystallization area could be illustrated using a unique 3-dimensional plot where the data from the prep-TREF fractionation, and the DSC and CRYSTAF, were combined to give the “crystallization map” of the blend. These plots give a quiche visual illustration of any co-crystallization regions in the blends as well as how much the crystallization conditions effect the blend crystallization.