Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Fluorinated thermoplastic elastomers

A new family of fluorinated thermoplastic elastomers (FTPE) was developed for applications in hostile conditions, in terms of very low and high temperature service and contact with aggressive chemicals. A-B-A block copolymers were synthesized using an original microemulsion polymerization technology, called branching and pseudoliving whereby FTPEs with a network structure containing both physical and chemical links are prepared. The physical links are obtained by the segragation and crystallization of the hard polymer blocks. This is the characteristic link that leads to the network structure of traditional block copolymer thermoplastic elastomers (TPE). The chemical link is obtained by the branching and pseudoliving technology. This is similar to the characteristic link that constitutes the network structure of traditional thermoset elastomers. However, in this latter case, chemical links are formed through a chemical crosslinking reaction, with all the problems associated with the rubber processing, such as no scrap recycling, compounding and toxic volatile emissions. The presence of both links confers, to the FTPEs developed, an outstanding high temperature resistance in comparison to known commercial FTPEs. The high temperature stability of the network is higher and closer to thermoset elastomers, while maintaining the reversible nature, characteristic of melt processable polymers. Important additional tools were developed such as the annealing and radiation curing process, which improves the network stability and increases its high temperature resistance. In particular, it was found that the application of radiation crosslinking surprisingly contributes further to the high temperature stability of the network, allowing applications in high demanding fields. FTPEs with tailored molecular weight distribution, showing excellent flowing and processing behaviours, were prepared by a special multicomponent addition technique. Industrial hoses and seals, prepared with the new FTPE showed outstanding performances in terms of both chemical resistance and high temperature mechanical and sealing properties in comparison to traditional FTPEs.

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