Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 1-31-2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Committee for the Interdisciplinary Program in Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Marino Xanthos

Second Advisor

Ken K. Chin

Third Advisor

Costas G. Gogos

Fourth Advisor

Michael Chien-Yueh Huang

Fifth Advisor

Sanjay V. Malhotra

Sixth Advisor

David B. Todd


As part of a broader research effort to investigate the chemical modification of polyesters by reactive processing a low molecular weight (MW) unsaturated polyester (UP) and a higher MW saturated polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), alone or blended with polypropylene (PP) were melt processed in a batch mixer and continuous twin screw extruders. Modification was monitored by on-line rheology and the products were characterized primarily by off-line rheology, morphology and thermal analysis. Efforts were made to establish processing/property relationships and provide an insight of the accompanying structural changes. The overall response of the reactively modified systems was found to be strongly dependent on the component characteristics, blend composition, type and concentrations of reactive additives and processing conditions.

The work concluded that UP can be effectively modified through reactive melt processing. Its melt viscosity and MW can be increased through chemical reactions between organic peroxides (POX) and chain unsaturation or between MgO and carboxyl/hydroxyl end groups. Reactive blending of PP/UP blends through peroxide modification gave finer and more uniform morphology than unreacted blends and at a given PP/UP weight ratio more thermoplastic elastomers-like rheological behavior. This is due to the continuously decreasing viscosity ratio of PP/UP towards unity by the competing reactions between POX and the blend components and formation of PP-UP copolymers which serve as in-situ compatibilizers to promote better interfacial adhesion. Kinetics of the competing reactions were analyzed through a developed model.

In addition to POX concentration and mixing efficiency, rheology and morphology of UP/PP bends were significantly affected by the addition of inorganic and organic coagents. Addition of coagents such as a difunctional maleimide , MgO and/or an anhydride functionalized PP during reactive blending offers effective means for tailoring the desired rheological and structural characteristics of the final products for potential applications such as low density extrusion foaming or compatibilization of immiscible polymer blends. Important modification conditions through coagents are identified and reaction mechanisms are proposed.

A high MW saturated polyester, PET, can also be rheologically modified in extruders through low MW multifunctional anhydride and epoxy compounds by chain extension/branching. Several such modifiers were successfully screened in terms of their reactivity towards PET under controlled reactive extrusion conditions. A dianhydride with medium reactivity was then successfully used in a one-step reactive modification/extrusion foaming process to produce low density foams. A similar process was successfully used to produce small cell size foams from a four component system containing PET, PP and lesser amounts of a low molecular weight multifunctional epoxy compound and an acid functionalized polyolefin, the latter acting as compatibilizers.



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