Infrared spectroscopic investigation of the effects of titania photocatalyst on the degradation of linear low density polyethylene film for commercial applications

Nagle, Dylan John (2009) Infrared spectroscopic investigation of the effects of titania photocatalyst on the degradation of linear low density polyethylene film for commercial applications. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


There is a need in industry for a commodity polyethylene film with controllable degradation properties that will degrade in an environmentally neutral way, for applications such as shopping bags and packaging film. Additives such as starch have been shown to accelerate the degradation of plastic films, however control of degradation is required so that the film will retain its mechanical properties during storage and use, and then degrade when no longer required. By the addition of a photocatalyst it is hoped that polymer film will breakdown with exposure to sunlight. Furthermore, it is desired that the polymer film will degrade in the dark, after a short initial exposure to sunlight. Research has been undertaken into the photo- and thermo-oxidative degradation processes of 25 ìm thick LLDPE (linear low density polyethylene) film containing titania from different manufacturers. Films were aged in a suntest or in an oven at 50 °C, and the oxidation product formation was followed using IR spectroscopy. Degussa P25, Kronos 1002, and various organic-modified and doped titanias of the types Satchleben Hombitan and Hunstsman Tioxide incorporated into LLDPE films were assessed for photoactivity. Degussa P25 was found to be the most photoactive with UVA and UVC exposure. Surface modification of titania was found to reduce photoactivity. Crystal phase is thought to be among the most important factors when assessing the photoactivity of titania as a photocatalyst for degradation. Pre-irradiation with UVA or UVC for 24 hours of the film containing 3% Degussa P25 titania prior to aging in an oven resulted in embrittlement in ca. 200 days. The multivariate data analysis technique PCA (principal component analysis) was used as an exploratory tool to investigate the IR spectral data. Oxidation products formed in similar relative concentrations across all samples, confirming that titania was catalysing the oxidation of the LLDPE film without changing the oxidation pathway. PCA was also employed to compare rates of degradation in different films. PCA enabled the discovery of water vapour trapped inside cavities formed by oxidation by titania particles. Imaging ATR/FTIR spectroscopy with high lateral resolution was used in a novel experiment to examine the heterogeneous nature of oxidation of a model polymer compound caused by the presence of titania particles. A model polymer containing Degussa P25 titania was solvent cast onto the internal reflection element of the imaging ATR/FTIR and the oxidation under UVC was examined over time. Sensitisation of 5 ìm domains by titania resulted in areas of relatively high oxidation product concentration. The suitability of transmission IR with a synchrotron light source to the study of polymer film oxidation was assessed as the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne, Australia. Challenges such as interference fringes and poor signal-to-noise ratio need to be addressed before this can become a routine technique.

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ID Code: 32077
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Fredericks, Peter, George, Graeme, & Rintoul, Llewellyn
Keywords: titania photocatalyst, polyethylene film, Infrared spectroscopy
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 Apr 2010 05:01
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:56

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