Well-mixed blends of HDPE and ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene with major improvements in impact strength achieved via solid-state shear pulverization

Mirian F. Diop, Wesley R. Burghardt, John M. Torkelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

Compared with conventional polyolefins, ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) possesses outstanding impact strength and crack resistance that make it desirable for a wide variety of applications. Unfortunately, UHMWPE has an ultrahigh viscosity that renders common, continuous melt-state processes ineffective for making UHMWPE products. Attempts to overcome this problem by blending UHMWPE with lower molecular weight high-density polyethylene (HDPE) by melt processing have typically led to poorly dispersed blends due to the vast viscosity mismatch between blend components. Here, we present solid-state shear pulverization (SSSP) as a mild, continuous, and simple approach for achieving effective and intimate mixing in UHMWPE/HDPE blends. These SSSP blends are easily processed by post-SSSP melt extrusion; for an SSSP blend with 50 wt% UHMWPE, we observe more than a factor of 1000 increase in viscosity at a shear rate of 0.01 s-1 but less than a factor of 5 increase at 100 s-1, the latter being more typical of melt-processing operations. Using extensional rheology, we confirm the strain hardening behavior of SSSP blends. Shear rheology and crystallization data show that the mixing between UHMWPE and HDPE can be improved with subsequent passes of SSSP and single-screw extrusion. Finally, we show that blending via SSSP leads to dramatic improvements in impact strength: as compared to literature results, injection-molded sample bars made from SSSP blends with 30-50 wt% UHMWPE exhibit very high values of notched Izod impact strength, 660-770 J/m (the impact strength of neat HDPE was 170 J/m).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4948-4958
Number of pages11
JournalPolymer
Volume55
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 15 2014

Keywords

  • Blend
  • High density polyethylene
  • Ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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