High-pressure viscosity and density of polymer solutions at the critical polymer concentration in near-critical and supercritical fluids
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The motivation for the determination of the viscosity of polymer solutions in dense fluids at the critical polymer concentration stems from the need to understand the factors that influence the time scale of phase separation in systems that undergo spinodal decomposition upon a pressure quench. In a recent investigation of PDMS + CO2 and PE + n-pentane where molecular weights of the polymers and the critical polymer concentrations were comparable, significant differences were observed in the time evolution of new phase growth. Among the reasons that contribute to the difference in phase separation kinetics is the viscosity of the solutions. This thesis has been carried out to experimentally demonstrate the differences in viscosities of solutions at their critical polymer concentration. Specifically, the thesis focused on the high-pressure density and viscosity of solutions of poly(dimethylsiloxane) (Mw = 93,700, Mw/Mn = 2.99) in supercritical carbon dioxide and of polyethylene (Mw = 121,000, Mw/Mn = 4.3) in near-critical n-pentane. The measurements have been carried out at the critical polymer concentrations, which is 5.5 wt % for solution of PDMS in CO2 and 5.75 wt % for solution of PE in n-pentane. For PDMS + CO2 system, the measurements were conducted at 55, 70, 85 and 100 oC and pressures up to 50 MPa. For PE + n-pentane system, the measurements were conducted at 140 and 150 oC and again up to 50 MPa. All measurements were conducted in the one-phase homogenous regions. At these temperatures and pressures, the viscosities were observed to be in the range from 0.14 mPa.s to 0.22 mPa.s for PDMS + CO2, and from 2.3 mPa.s to 4.6 mPa.s for PE + n-pentane systems. In both systems the viscosities increase with pressure and decrease with temperature. The temperature and pressure dependence could be described by Arrhenius type relationships in terms of flow activation energy (E#) and flow activation volume (V#) parameters. The flow activation energies in PDMS + CO2 system were about 7 kJ/mol compared to about 18 kJ/mol for the PE + n-pentane system. The activation volumes were in the range 40-64 cm3/mol for PDMS + CO2 system and 65-75 cm3/mol for the PE + n-pentane solution. The higher values of E# and V# represent the higher sensitivity of viscosity to temperature and pressure changes in the PE + n-pentane system. The viscosity data could also be correlated in terms of density using free-volume based Doolittle type equations. Density is shown to be an effective scaling parameter to describe T/P dependency of viscosity. The closed packed volumes suggested from density correlations were found to be around 0.33 cm3/g for the PDMS and 0.48 cm3/g for the PE systems. Comparison of the viscosity data in these systems with the data on the kinetics of pressure-induced phase separation confirms that the slower kinetics in the PE + n-pentane stems from the higher viscosity in this solution compared to the PDMS + CO2 system, despite the similarity in the molecular weight of the polymer and the critical polymer concentrations. These viscosity and density measurements were conducted in a special falling-body type viscometer. In the course of this thesis a more reliable procedure for determining the terminal velocity of the falling sinker was implemented. This is based on the precise and more complete description of the position of the sinker with time with the aid of a set of linear variable differential transformers (LVDTs). The design of the new arrangement and procedure for terminal velocity determination and calibration procedures for the viscometer are also presented. The densities and viscosities are determined with an accuracy of Â± 1 % and Â± 5 % or better, respectively.
- Masters Theses