Surface Tension Measurement of Polystyrene in Supercritical Fluids
Park, Hyuk Sang
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Interfacial tension provides valuable information about polymer processes such as foaming, particle (pigment) suspension, wetting, and blending. Among the methods commonly used to measure surface tension, drop shape methods entail several advantages such as simplicity and versatility. The profile of the drop, which is determined by the balance between gravity and surface forces, is easily defined. The surface tension is obtained from the profile of the drop. Recent progress in image analysis and data acquisition systems makes it possible to digitalize drop images directly using a video frame grabber with a digital camera. The digital signals are easily analyzed using different algorithms to determine the surface/interfacial tension from the drop profile. This study concentrates on one of the drop methods, the pendant drop method, which involves the determination of a drop profile of one dense liquid suspended in another liquid at mechanical equilibrium. Despite theoretical simplicity of using sessile and pendant drops for determining the surface tension of polymer melts, research in this area is limited because of the experimental difficulty associated with maintaining equilibrium of highly viscous melts. This paper examines the surface tension of polystyrene melts using Axisymmetric Drop Shape Analysis (ADSA) at high temperatures. This thesis focuses on attaining a stable pendant drop during experiments and modifying experimental designs. The method is verified by experiments in the air and nitrogen, where reproducibility tests and statistical analyses are performed. The surface tension of polystyrene (PS) that melts in supercritical carbon dioxide is obtained while the gas solubility is correlated with the surface tension value determined under various conditions. The Sanchez-Lacombe (S-L) equation of state (EOS) is applied to estimate the Pressure-Volume-Temperature (PVT) data of the PS/supercritical-carbon-dioxide mixtures, which gives density data. The relationship between surface tension and density is described by the empirical Macleod equation. To characterize the stability of pendant drops formed by the polymer melt, the Bond number is found to be useful; in particular, a stable pendant drop is obtained when the Bond number is between 0.4 and 0.8. This thesis presents experimental results of the surface tension of polystyrene in supercritical carbon dioxide, together with theoretical calculations for a corresponding system. The surface tension is determined by Axisymmetric Drop Shape Analysis-Profile (ADSA-P), where a high pressure and temperature cell is designed and constructed to facilitate the formation of a pendant drop of polystyrene melt. Self-consistent field theory (SCFT) calculations are applied to simulate the surface tension of a corresponding system, and a good agreement with the experiment is obtained. The physical mechanisms for three main experimental trends are explained using SCFT, and none of the explanations depend on the configurational entropy of the polymer constituents. These calculations therefore rationalize the use of simple liquid models for the quantitative prediction of surface tensions of polymers. As pressure and temperature increase, the surface tension of polystyrene decreases. A linear relationship is found between surface tension and temperature, and between surface tension and pressure; the rate of surface tension change with temperature is dependent on pressure. A linear relationship is found between surface tension and temperature, and between surface tension and pressure within a temperature range of 170-210C and a pressure range of 500-2,000 psi. Two monodisperse polystyrenes of Mw ~ 100,000 and Mw ~400,000 and a polydisperse polystyrene were investigated to show the temperature and pressure effect on the surface tension in supercritical nitrogen. Regardless of the molecular weight and polydispersity, the surface tension of polystyrenes decreases as the pressure and temperature increase. Monodisperse polystyrene of a higher molecular weight has a higher surface tension by 6-9 mJ/m2 at each experimental condition. The surface tension dependence on temperature and on pressure is more significant for the higher molecular weight polystyrene; the surface tension has been varied more in the higher molecular weight polystyrene than in the lower molecular weigh polystyrene. For a polydisperse polystyrene, high surface tension values seem to be determined predominantly by its high molecular weight portion of polystyrene molecules. An empirical equation was generated to relate surface tension to the density difference between the polymer and supercritical nitrogen. This research should have implications in understanding polymer foaming processes and have application in various polymer engineering fields including polymer characterizations, polymer synthesis, and surface modifications.