Influence of copolymer fraction composition in ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene blends with ethylene/1-hexene copolymers on material physical and tensile properties



The reactor blends (RBs) with bimodal molecular weight distribution on the base of ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) and low molecular weight random ethylene/1-hexene copolymers (CEH) were synthesized by two-step processes including ethylene polymerization followed by ethylene/1-hexene copolymerization over rac-(CH3)2Si(Ind)2ZrCl2/methylaluminoxane catalyst. The four series of blends differed in a composition of copolymer fraction that was varied in a wide range (from 3.0 to 37.0 mol % of 1-hexene). The differential scanning calorimetric study shows the double melting behavior of the net semicrystalline CEHs, which can be attributed to intramolecular heterogeneity in chain branch distribution. The introduction of CEHs leads to the modification of nascent RB crystalline and amorphous phases. Physical and tensile properties as well as melting indexes of the materials depend not only on the percentage of copolymer fraction that varied from 6.9 to 35.8 wt % but also on its composition. The increase of copolymer fraction with high content of 1-hexene (≥11.0 mol %) in the blends leads to the change of the character of stress–strain curves; the materials behave as elastomers. Controlled regulation of copolymer fraction characteristics in the synthesis yields RBs combining the enough high strength, good plastic properties with enhanced melting indexes as compared with the net UHMWPE. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40151.