Effect of UV and hygrothermal aging on the mechanical performance of polyurethane elastomers



In this study, the effects of environmental aging on the mechanical performance of elastomeric polyurethane (PU) were investigated using two accelerated aging techniques, namely, ultraviolet (UV) and hygrothermal (HT). Samples were prepared and subjected to UV and HT exposure for a period of 5 months and removed and mechanically tested at different time intervals. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) was performed. A noticeable change in the chemical structure of the PU after 1 month of UV exposure was found, however, that was not the case after 1 month of HT exposure. The stress and strain to failure, tearing energy, and storage modulus were evaluated at different intervals for both aging techniques. It was found that the UV exposure caused severe degradation of the PU in comparison with the HT. A reduction of more than 98% in the tearing energy was observed for the UV-exposed samples after 5 months when compared with only a 35% reduction in the tearing energy for the HT-exposed samples. A similar trend was observed for tear strength and storage modulus. The degradation mechanisms of the PU elastomers have been identified using SEM and correlated with the tearing energy. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2008