Preparative gel permeation chromatography was used to produce a number of polypropylene reference samples, within the molecular weight range of 10,000–600,000, from commercial materials. Some of these materials were degraded in a controlled manner to give base materials having suitable molecular weight characteristics. A procedure has been developed using a single preparative column packed with equal quantities of Styragel with nominal exclusion limits of 102, 103, 104, and 105 nm. The volume of solvent for recovery was minimized by use of higher loading factors than in analytical GPC (some 2–20 times more polymer was thus fractionated in each experiment). Under these conditions the fractions first eluted were sharpest having polydispersities of about 1.5. First fractions, from different base materials, were characterized by analytical GPC, and those of similar molecular weight and polydispersity were combined to give the reference samples. Refractionation was necessary with the highest molecular weight base material because the first stage fractions were not sharp enough. Some of these fractions were recovered at elution volumes where much lower molecular weight material was expected. Comparison with results from the other base materials indicates that the primary cause of the spreading is not overloading. This spreading is explained in terms of slower partitioning of the larger molecules between the interstitial fluid and the gel particles.
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