Supercritical Gas Solvents as Viscosity-Reducing Agents for Thermoplastic Composite Processing 930173

Solubility and viscosity predictions for solutions of a thermoplastic polymer with several supercritical gases indicate that significant viscosity reduction and solubility are achieved when the processing conditions are closely matched with the critical properties of the dissolved gas. For the solubility predictions, PVT behavior was modeled by the lattice theory based Sanchez - Lacombe equation-of-state (EOS). Viscosity was estimated by employing the Kelley - Bueche free volume theory coupled with the volumetric calculations of the EOS. Unlike conventional solvents, supercritical solvents add significant free volume to supercritical gas / polymer mixtures; this added free volume provides remarkable viscosity reduction. Viscosity reductions of up to two orders of magnitude are predicted for a supercritical gas / polymer system, compared to the undiluted polymer when the critical temperature for the supercritical gas is matched to the polymer processing temperature. The solubility and viscosity reduction results offer much encouragement for the development of supercritical gases as polymer processing agents.


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