H. Chen, U. Sundararaj, K. Nandakumar, M. D. Wetzel
May 2, 2013
The melting and deformation mechanisms of polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP) blends were investigated through on-line visualization of the co-rotating twin-screw extrusion process. Two compositions, PP/PS (80:20) and PS/PP (80: 20) were chosen as the model systems for this study. A sliding barrel technique was used to realize the on-line visualization using a glass window in the barrel. The axial temperature and pressure profiles along the screw channel were measured using the same sliding technique. It was found that in the PP/PS (80:20) blend, in which PP was the major phase, there was a combined melting of PS and PP, whereas in the PS/PP (80:20) blend, in which PS was the major phase, there was initial melting of PS alone and then combined melting of PS and PP. In the partially filled region, heat conduction from the hot barrel was the major source for heating polymer pellets under the conditions studied here; while in the fully filled region, viscous energy dissipation (VED) generated most of the heat for melting of polymer pellets. The pressure profiles along the extrusion channel gave us insight into the melting process for the two blends. It was found that if there was some molten polymer in the fully filled region, the overall melting process was accelerated due to heating from viscous dissipation.