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Nascent Morphology, the Important Link between Chemistry/Catalysis and Rheology/Processing pp. 179-194 $100.00
Authors:  (Piet Lemstra)
Abstract:
Solution(gel)-spun polyethylene fibers are nowadays produced commercially and
make an inroad in specific application such as ballistic protection (helmets, bulletproof
vests) replacing aramid fibers such as KevlarŪ. The base material for high-performance
polyethylene (PE) fibers is ultra-high molecular weight PE (UHMW-PE) , an intractable
polymer in view of its high molar mass, > 106 gram/mole ,which makes melt-processing
impossible. The term solution(gel)-spinning is misleading because UHMW-PE is spun
from a true solution and gels are formed upon quenching the as-spun filaments which
consists of 90% or more solvent. Upon quenching, the UHMW-PE crystallizes and the
as-spun filaments become gelly-like. The essential feature is that upon dissolution of
UHMW-PE, the very long chain molecules become dis-entangled from each other and
this dis-entangled state is preserved in the as-spun filaments promoting ultra-drawing,
even after removal of the solvent before the drawing process. The major disadvantage of
these solution(gel)-spinning processes is that a large amount of solvent is needed, 90% or
more, which has to be recovered fully. Solvent-free routes are currently explored using
dis-entangled UHMW-PE produced directly in the reactor. In principle, upon compacting
UHMW-PE reactor powder, consisting of folded-chain crystals, below the melting point
renders films which are ultra-drawable, similar to solution-spun/cast UHMW-PE fibers
and films. These solvent-free routes could well take over the current solution(gel)-
spinning processes. In this chapter the development of high-performance PE fibers is
discussed in retrospect and with an outlook to the future. 


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Nascent Morphology, the Important Link between Chemistry/Catalysis and Rheology/Processing pp. 179-194