Equilibrium acid concentrations, [Ae], were determined in butylene adipate and caprolactone polyesters, of low molecular weight, and in thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers based on these polyesters. Values of [Ae] of the polyesters at 85°C were 0.7, 1.3, and 3-4 × 10−3 mol/g at relative humidities (RH) of 25%, 50%, and 93%, respectively. [Ae] of the thermoplastic elastomers at 85°C were about 3 and 7 × 10−4 mol/g at 10% and 25% RH, respectively. Values of [Ae] were not very dependent on temperature at constant RH. Equilibrated thermoplastic elastomers had low molecular weights and poor physical properties. Consequently, equilibration does not set a practical limit on hydrolytic degradation, even at low RH. Equations were developed that described the variation in acid content with time. Rate constants for hydrolysis and esterification increased as RH decreased. Reesterification in the elastomers in the absence of water is too slow to be a useful method of decreasing hydrolytic damage.
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