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Effect of the structure on the morphology and spherulitic growth kinetics of polyolefin in-reactor alloys



Four polyolefin in-reactor alloys with different compositions and structures were prepared by sequential polymerization. All the alloys were fractionated into five fractions: a random copolymer of ethylene and propylene (25°C fraction), an ethylene–propylene segmented copolymer (90°C fraction), an ethylene homopolymer (110°C fraction), an ethylene–propylene block copolymer (120°C fraction), and a propylene homopolymer plus a minor ethylene homopolymer of high molecular weight (>120°C fraction). The effect of the structure on the morphology and spherulitic growth kinetics of the polypropylene (PP) component in the alloys was investigated. The polyolefin alloys containing a suitable block copolymer fraction and a larger amount of PP had a more homogeneous morphology, and the crystalline particles were smaller. Quenching the polyolefin alloys led to smaller crystallites and a more homogeneous morphology as well. Isothermal crystallization was carried out above the melting temperature of polyethylene, and the growth of PP spherulites was monitored with polarized optical microscopy with a hot stage. The alloys with higher propylene contents exhibited a faster spherulitic growth rate. The fold surface free energy was derived, and it was found that a large amount of block copolymer fractions and random copolymer fractions could reduce the fold surface free energy. The structure of the alloys also affected the crystallization regime of PP. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 98: 632–638, 2005

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