A kinetic model for predicting the oxidative degradation of additive free polyethylene in bleach desinfected water

Abstract : The chemical interactions between additive free PE and bleach were investigated by FTIR spectrophotometry and viscosimetry in molten state after immersion (for a maximum duration of one hundred days) in bleach solutions maintained at a temperature of 60 °C, a free chlorine concentration of 100 ppm, and a pH = 4, 5 or 7. It was found that the polymer undergoes a severe oxidation from the earliest days of exposure in a superficial layer of about 50–100 μm thick, almost independent of the pH value. In this layer, oxidation leads to the formation and accumulation of various carbonyl products (mostly ketones and carboxylic acids) but also, after about 2–3 weeks of exposure, to a dramatic decrease in the average molar mass due to the large predominance of chain scissions over crosslinking. It was also found that the oxidation rate is maximum at pH = 5, and of the same order of magnitude at pH = 4 and 7. Based on the equilibrium diagram giving access to the relative predominance of the three main chemical species as a function of the pH value of the bleach solution, it was assumed that oxidation is initiated by radical species coming firstly from hypochlorous acid (ClOH) and secondarily from chlorine (Cl2), given that hypochlorite ions (ClO−) are totally insoluble into the PE matrix. In addition, for explaining the surprisingly large value of the oxidized layer thickness despite the high reactivity of the involved radicals, it was assumed that ClOH and Cl2 do not decompose into radicals in the water phase, but migrate deeply into the PE matrix prior to dissociating into Cl and HO radicals and then, initiating a radical chain oxidation. The validity of the kinetic model derived from this scenario was successfully checked by comparing the numerical simulations with all the experimental data collected in this study. This model predicts the general trends of the oxidation kinetics and its dependence on the pH value, but also gives access to the transport properties of the chlorinated disinfectants and their radical species, and the rate constants of the radical attack.
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Polymer Degradation and Stability, Elsevier, 2017, 146, pp.78 - 94. 〈10.1016/j.polymdegradstab.2017.09.020〉
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Aicha Mikdam, Xavier Colin, Gaelle Minard, Noëlle Billon, Romain Maurin. A kinetic model for predicting the oxidative degradation of additive free polyethylene in bleach desinfected water. Polymer Degradation and Stability, Elsevier, 2017, 146, pp.78 - 94. 〈10.1016/j.polymdegradstab.2017.09.020〉. 〈hal-01649065〉

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