Processing and Characterization of Polycarbonate Foams with Supercritical Co2 and 5-Phenyl-1H-tetrazole
Description: Since their discovery in the 1930s, polymeric foams have been widely used in the industry for a variety of applications such as acoustical and thermal insulation, filters, absorbents etc. The reason for this ascending trend can be attributed to factors such as cost, ease of processing and a high strength to weight ratio compared to non-foamed polymers. The purpose of this project was to develop an “indestructible” material made of polycarbonate (PC) for industrial applications. Due to the high price of polycarbonate, two foaming methods were investigated to reduce the amount of material used. Samples were foamed physically in supercritical CO2 or chemically with 5-phenyl-1H-tetrazole. After thermal characterization of the foams in differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), we saw that none of the foaming methods had an influence on the glass transition of polycarbonate. Micrographs taken in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed that foams obtained in physical and chemical foaming had different structures. Indeed, samples foamed in supercritical CO2 exhibited a microcellular opened-cell structure with a high cell density and a homogeneous cell distribution. On the other hand, samples foamed with 5-phenyl-1H-tetrazole had a macrocellular closed-cell structure with a much smaller cell density and a random cell distribution. Compression testing showed that polycarbonate foamed physically had a compression modulus a lot greater. Then, XLPE mesh 35 or 50 and wollastonite were added to the polymeric matrices to enhance the foaming process and the mechanical properties. DSC experiments showed that the addition of fillers changed the thermal properties of polycarbonate for both foaming methods by inducing a shift in glass transition. SEM revealed that fillers lowered the average cell diameter and increased the cell density. This phenomenon increased the compression modulus for polycarbonate foamed in supercritical CO2. However, mechanical properties decreased for samples foamed with 5-phenyl-1H-tetrazole due to their relative brittleness and ...
Date: May 2015
Creator: Cloarec, Thomas