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On the physical properties of poly(ethylene 2,5-furandicarboxylate)

Abstract : Plastics have become an integral part of our lives, while the petrochemical feedstocks used to make them are not sustainable on the long term. In pursuit of production processes starting from renewable feedstocks, furanics were found to form quite readily from abundant plant-based carbohydrates and to bring new functionality as intermediates. Poly(ethylene 2,5-furandicarboxylate) or PEF is one of the plastics that can be made through 2,5-furandicaboxylic acid (FDCA) as an intermediate. It can be produced analogously to the ubiquitous material Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) but has only recently been gaining more attention including the finding that it has greatly reduced gas permeability and a higher modulus and glass transition temperature, rendering it interesting as a packaging material. In the first part of this work we study the crystallization behavior of PEF, relevant for production and handling of pellets as well as transparency and thermal properties in end-use applications, as a function of molecular weight and the type of catalyst used. Mathematical models were found that describe both isothermal crystallization kinetics and non-isothermal kinetics for PEF, which is generally slower than PET. PEF crystallization from the glass found to be atypical and was modeled using unconventional models and the isoconversional approach. The origin of this behavior was found to be nucleation at low temperatures, which can be influenced to accelerate its crystallization. The second part of this work relates to the thermomechanical behavior of PEF, relevant for its processing and application in particular. The higher glass transition temperature was found to not increase as much by crystallinity as PET, and could be attributed to a reduced chain mobility compensated by increased free volume. The loose entanglement of PEF could be explained by reduced unperturbed chain dimensions following quite directly from the reduced bond length of FDCA. No significant conformational restictions were found, thus any mobility reduction should be intermolecular. A higher temperature and strain rate dependence of the melt viscosity was found for PEF across various molecular weights and catalyst types, which was described mathematically and can also be explained by a more loosely entangled network. The amorphous mechanical properties and higher strain rate dependence at room temperature also point to a low entanglement network although mobility reduction may also play a role. Biaxial orientation of PEF in the rubbery state, relevant for producing films and bottles, showed that higher draw ratios are needed than for PET until molecular orientation is maximized and strain hardening begins. However, it was found that upon using higher stretch ratios, oriented PEF can exhibit increased strength and Tg compared to oriented PET and further reduced gas permeability.
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Jesper Gabriël van Berkel. On the physical properties of poly(ethylene 2,5-furandicarboxylate). Material chemistry. Université Côte d'Azur, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018AZUR4075⟩. ⟨tel-01958692⟩

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