An important parameter for polyethylene, affecting most end product physical properties like stiffness, impact strength and optical properties. The density is normally given in g/cm3, although the correct SI unit would be kg/m3. Two basic measuring methods are used: (a) Density gradient column is the basic method for density measurement. In it a density gradient is prepared by mixing two liquids of different densities so that density increases uniformly from top to bottom. Small test pieces are immersed into this density gradient, and the density of the polymer is determined based on the equilibrium position of the pieces and calibration floats. (b) Pyknometer measurements rely on calibrated volumes and the density difference to a reference fluid; compression-moulded samples are normally used here.
Dynamic rheometry gives information both about flow and elastic properties of polymer melts. In a dynamic measurement the sample is put between two round plates or between a cone and a plate in the oven. The system is heated to a desired temperature and a sinusoidal deformation at different frequencies is applied.
As a result we get storage and loss modulus as a function of frequency. Storage modulus is connected with elastic energy, while loss modulus corresponds to viscose energy. From the above parameters we can calculate complex viscosity as a function of frequency.
With most of polyolefin products this is the same as the conventional viscosity function, which is viscosity as a function of shear rate. The dynamic measurements are limited to relatively low shear rates. On the other hand, a benefit compared to capillary rheometry is, that we get reliable information also about elasticity.
In addition, the obtained properties are much more sensitive for small differences in polymer structure which play an important role in processing and end-use properties.
Differential Scanning Calorimetry
In Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) the sample and a reference material are heated and cooled in a defined manner. DSC provides a rapid method for the determination of the temperature profile of a polymeric material. This includes e.g. measurement of heat capacity, specific heat, melting, crystallisation and glass transition temperatures, heat (enthalpy) of fusion, crystallisation, study of thermal stability or reaction kinetics and in certain cases identification of the polymer or polymer mixture.
Dynamic Mechanical Thermal Analysis
Dynamic Mechanical Thermal Analysis (DMTA): Many polymeric materials exhibit time-dependent, reversible viscoelastic properties in deformation. Dynamic mechanical tests are characterized by an application of a small stress in sinusoidal fashion and a continuous scan of resonant frequency of vibration and damping vs. temperature is produced. This is transformed into dynamic storage modulus, dynamic loss modulus and damping factor by the instrument software.