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Abstract

The desorption of mixtures of ethane and butane at atmospheric pressure from low-density polyethylene was investigated over the temperature range from 20 to 60°C. Desorbed penetrants were continuously trapped in glass tubes immersed in liquid nitrogen, and composition was determined as a function of time by means of gas chromatography. The ratio of the quantity of desorbed gas at any time t, qt, to the quantity at complete desorption, q, was used to determine diffusion coefficients and solubility constants. The diffusion coefficients for both ethane and butane increase with increasing butane concentration in the temperature interval investigated. The solubility of both penetrants can be correlated by Henry's law at 40, 50, and 60°C. However, at 20 and 30°C. the solubility constant for both penetrants increases with increasing butane concentration. This trend is consistent with experimental observations for single-component diffusion and solubility of several hydrocarbons in polyethylene, where increasing concentration of penetrant plasticizes the polymer, resulting in increasing diffusion coefficients and solubility constants.