Modification of gel-drawn poly(vinyl alcohol) fibers with formaldehyde



Poly(vinyl alcohol) fibers which were drawn from dried gels were chemically treated with formaldehyde to induce crosslinking in the amorphous phase. The room temperature storage modulus decreased early in the treatment, to an almost constant value of 50–60% of the initial modulus of the fiber. This behavior was independent of the concentration of formaldehyde used. The modulus at low temperature was also reduced, and no Tg peak could be seen in heavily treated fibers. The modulus above the original Tg, 70°C, was much less affected. The crystallinity determined by DSC fell by one third as the room temperature modulus decreased, and X-ray diffraction indicated a reduction in the crystal length along the chain direction at the same time. Thus, under the conditions of treatment used, the loss of properties due to destruction of crystals outweighs the stiffening and reduced water sensitivity of the crosslinked amorphous phase.