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Keywords:

  • chemical composition distribution (CCD);
  • fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrometry;
  • on-line FT-IR detection;
  • polyolefins;
  • temperature rising elution fractionation (TREF)

Abstract

Summary: Temperature rising elution fractionation (TREF) has become a popular analytical technique that is able to determine the chemical composition distribution (CCD) of an ethylene/α-olefin copolymer. An infrared (IR) detector is commonly used in TREF detection to measure the concentration of the polymer solution exiting the column as a function of elution temperature. The chemical composition of the eluting polymer at a given elution temperature can be predicted from the relationship between comonomer content and TREF elution temperature pre-established through 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis of TREF fractions. In this article, a Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrometer has been coupled with a TREF instrument to provide a more powerful tool for characterizing complex olefin copolymers. The Partial Least Squares (PLS) technique is used when analyzing the FT-IR spectra of the eluting polymer solutions. The power of on-line FT-IR detection in TREF is demonstrated using a few complex copolymer systems, such as ethylene-octene copolymer, polystyrene grafted ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer and ethylene-methyl acrylate copolymer.