The structure of semi-crystalline polymers is strongly influenced by the conditions applied during processing and is of major importance for the final properties of the product. A method is presented to quantify the effect of thermal and pressure history on the isotropic and quiescent crystallization kinetics of four important structures of polypropylene, i.e. the α-, β-, γ- and mesomorphic phase. The approach is based on nucleation and growth of spherulites during non-isothermal solidification, described by the Schneider rate equations combined with the Komogoroff-Avrami expression for space filling. Using an optimization routine the time-resolved multi-phase structure development is accurately described using crystal phase dependent growth rates and an overall nucleation density, all as function of temperature and pressure. It is shown that the maximum growth rate of the α-, and γ-phase increases with applied pressure, while it decreases for the mesomorphic phase. Addition of β-nucleation agent is interpreted as a secondary nucleation density with a coupled β-phase growth. This complete crystallization kinetics characterization of isotactic polypropylene allows prediction of the multi-phase structure development for a wide range of quiescent processing conditions.
- Isotactic polypropylene
- Crystallization model