Morphology and chemical elements detection of cured urea–formaldehyde resins



As a part of understanding the hydrolysis of cured urea–formaldehyde (UF) resins that has been known as responsible for the formaldehyde emission, leading to sick building syndrome, this study attempted to investigate the morphology and to detect chemical elements of the cured UF resins of different formaldehyde/urea (F/U) mole ratios and hardener (NH4Cl) levels, using field emission-scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive spectroscopy. Cured UF resins of low F/U mole ratio showed spherical structure whose diameter increased with an increase in the hardener level, whereas this was not observed for high F/U mole ratio UF resins regardless of the hardener levels. The energy-dispersive spectroscopy results showed five different chemical elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, chloride, and sodium in cured UF resins. The chloride distribution assumed as the presence of residual acid in the cured UF resins suggested that the hydrolysis of cured UF resins could initiate at the sites of chlorides on the surface of the spherical structures. As the hardener level increased, the quantities of both carbon and oxygen decreased, whereas those of nitrogen and chloride increased as expected. But the quantity of sodium was within measurement error. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011