Stress-induced crystallization is studied in an extensional flow device (a cross-slot flow cell) for an isotactic Polypropylene (iPP) by measuring the micro-structure that develops after flow. Birefringence and Wide Angle X-ray experiments were performed. The birefringence experiments with flow below the melting temperature showed the occurrence of a fiber-like structure around the outflow centerline and, later in time, of ‘streamlines’. The latter are explained by the influence of shear gradients close to the optical windows. The WAXS experiments also showed the fiber-like structure around the outflow centerline, having orientations in the (110), (040) and (130) reflections, with a width of about 80 μm. This dominance of the elongational flow around the stagnation line could not be observed in experiments with flow above and subsequent crystallization below the melting temperature.
Structure development in this cell was numerically predicted using the Leonov and the extended Pompom (XPP) model. The oriented structures can be predicted. Moreover, process conditions are found with less influence of the (unwanted) shear gradients. Finally, it was concluded that the strain hardening behavior in the Leonov model over-estimates the first component of the Finger tensor, and thus the number of flow-induced nuclei. Therefore it is recommended to use the extended Pompom model as a more realistic basis for a quantitative flow-induced crystallization model.
© 2003, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich