Migration of additives from thermoplastic polymers

  • M.D.R.J. Goonetilleka

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A homologous series of ultra-violet stabilisers containing 2-hydroxybenzophenone (HBP) moiety as a uv absorbing chromophore with varying alkyl chain lengths and sizes were prepared by known chemical synthesis. The strong absorbance of the HBP chromophore was utilized to evaluate the concentration of these stabilisers in low density polyethylene films and concentration of these stabilisers in low density polyethylene films and in relevant solvents by ultra-violet/visible spectroscopy. Intrinsic diffusion coefficients, equilibrium solubilities, volatilities from LDPE films and volatility of pure stabilisers were studied over a temperature range of 5-100oC. The effects of structure, molecular weight and temperature on the above parameters were investigated and the results were analysed on the basis of theoretical models published in the literature. It has been found that an increase in alkyl chain lengths does not change the diffusion coefficients to a significant level, while attachment of polar or branched alkyl groups change their value considerably. An Arrhenius type of relationship for the temperature dependence of diffusion coefficients seems to be valid only for a narrow temperature range, and therefore extrapolation of data from one temperature to another leads to a considerable error. The evidence showed that increase in additive solubility in the polymer is favoured by lower heat of fusions and melting points of additives. This implies the validity of simple regular solution theory to provide an adequate basis for understanding the solubility of additives in polymers The volubility of stabilisers from low density polyethylene films showed that of an additive from a polymer can be expressed in terms of a first-order kinetic equation. In addition the rate of loss of stabilisers was discussed in relation to its diffusion, solubility and volatility and found that all these factors may contribute to the additive loss, although one may be a rate determining factor. Stabiliser migration from LDPE into various solvents and food simulants was studied at temperatures 5, 23, 40 and 70oC; from the plots of rate of migration versus square root time, characteristic diffusion coefficients were obtained by using the solution of Fick's diffusion equations. It was shown that the rate of migration depends primarily on partition coefficients between solvent and the polymer of the additive and also on the swelling action of the contracting media. Characteristic diffusion coefficients were found to approach to intrinsic values in non swelling solvents, whereas in the case of highly swollen polymer samples, the former may be orders of magnitude greater than the latter.
Date of Award1988
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSahar Al-Malaika (Supervisor)


  • migration
  • additives
  • thermoplastic polymers

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