Kinetic studies of solid-phase polycondensation in two polyamides and a polyester

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute

The effects of polymer particle size, temperature, and time on the continued condensation of two polyamides: poly(hexamethylene adipamide) and poly(hexamethylene sebacamide), and a polyester, poly(ethylene terephthalate), were studied experimentally.

The polyamides were held at elevated temperatures from 120 to 180 °C for periods of 5 to 20 hours in a nitrogen atmosphere. A similar procedure was followed with the polyester except that the range of temperature was 160 to 200 °C. The number-average molecular weights of the polymers before and after treatment were calculated from the polymer intrinsic viscosities. The thermal behavior of selected polymers was also examined by differential thermal analysis.

Poly(hexamethylene adipamide) showed an increase in the number-average molecular weight from approximately 10,000 to 22,000 when treated at 180 °C for 20 hours. Under the same conditions, poly(hexamethylene sebacamide) showed a change from about 10,000 to 14,000. Poly- (ethylene terephthalate) treated at 200 °C for 20 hours exhibited an increase from approximately 18,000 to 34,000.

Two kinetic equations were derived and were successfully applied to the experimental data. From these equations the specific reaction rates were obtained. The temperature dependency of the reaction rates was expressed in the form of the Arrhenius equation.

The effect of particle size on the reaction was noted. Also noted were changes in polymer thermal behavior as the reaction temperature was raised. At low temperatures the transport of reaction by-products from the interior to the surface of solids controlled the reaction. At high temperatures chemical kinetics determined the reaction.