High porosity polyethylene aerogels

Document Type: Original research


Dipartimento di Chimica e Biologia e Unità INSTM, Università degli Studi di Salerno Via Giovanni Paolo II,132- 84084 Fisciano (SA), Italy


Monolithic aerogels of high molecular weight polyethylene (Mw= 3x106- 6x106 g/mol) have been prepared by solvent extraction with supercritical carbon dioxide from thermoreversible gels prepared in decalin. These low density and highly porous aerogels present an apparent porosity up to 90%. The aerogel morphology observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is characterized by spherulitic structures being interconnected by fibers. X-ray diffraction experiments show that PE aerogels are highly crystalline with a degree of crystallinity of c.a. 80% and PE chains being packed into the typical orthorombic unit cell. Combined SEM and N2 sorption investigations show that PE aerogels are essentially macroporous with a small amount of mesopores. The oil-sorption performance of polyethylene aerogels has been also evaluated in this study in order to assess a possible use of these materials for oil spillage recovery and results show that aerogel macropores allow a very fast sorption kinetics with a 100% oil weight uptake obtained in less than 1 minute.


Main Subjects

  1. Wu D, Xu F, Sun B, Fu R , He H, Matyjaszewski K (2012) Design and preparation of porous polymers. Chem Rev 112: 3959-4015
  2. Colton JS (1989) The nucleation of microcellular foams in semi crystalline thermoplastics. Mater Manuf Process 4: 253-262
  3. Doroudiani S, Park CB, Kortschot MT (1998) Processing and characterization of microcellular foamed high-density polythylene/isotactic polypropylene blends. Polym Eng Sci 38: 1205- 1215
  4. Nofar M, Guo Y, Park CB (2013) Effects of saturation temperature/pressure on melting behavior and cell structure of expanded polypropylene bead. Ind Eng Chem Res 52: 2297−2303
  5. Bush PJ, Pradhan D, Ehrlich P (1991) Lamellar structure and organization in polyethylene gels crystallized from supercritical solution in propane. Macromolecules 24:1439-1440
  6. Pradhan D, Ehrlich P (1995) Morphologies of microporous polyethylene and polypropylene crystallized from solution in supercritical propane. J Polym Sci Polym Phys 33: 1053-1063
  7. Whaley PD, Kulkarni S, Ehrlich P, Stein RS, Winter HH, Conner WC, Beaucage G (1998) Isotactic polypropylene foams crystallized from compressed propane solutions. J Polym Sci Polym Phys 36: 617-627
  8. Winter HH, Gappert G, Ito H (2002) Rigid pore structure from highly swollen polymer gels. Macromolecules 35: 3325-3327
  9. Pekala RW (1989) Organic aerogels from polycondensation of resorcinol with formaldehyde. J Mater Sci 24: 3221-3227
  10. Pekala RW, Alviso CT, Lu X, Gross J, Fricke J (1995) New organic aerogels based upon a phenolic-furfural reaction. J Non-Cryst Solids 188: 34-40
  11. Daniel C, Alfano D, Venditto V, Cardea S, Reverchon E, Larobina D, Mensitieri G, Guerra G (2005) Aerogels with a microporous crystalline host phase. Adv Mater 17: 1515-1518
  12. Daniel C, Sannino D, Guerra G (2008) Syndiotactic polystyrene aerogels: Adsorption in amorphous pores and absorption in crystalline nanocavities. Chem Mater 20: 577-582
  13. Daniel C, Giudice S, Guerra G (2009) Syndiotatic polystyrene perogels with beta, gamma and epsilon crystalline phases. Chem Mater 21: 1028−1034
  14. Guenet JM, Parmentier J, Daniel C (2011) Porous materials from polyvinylidene fluoride/solvent molecular compounds. Soft Mater 9: 280-294
  15. Cardea S, Gugliuzza A, Sessa M, Aceto MC, Drioli, E, Reverchon E (2009) Supercritical gel drying: A powerful tool for tailoring symmetric porous PVDF-HFP membranes. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 1: 171-180
  16. Daniel C, Vitillo JG, Fasano G, Guerra G (2011) Aerogels and polymorphism of isotactic poly(4- methyl-pentene-1). ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 3: 969-977
  17. Daniel C, Longo S, Cardea S, Vitillo JG , Guerra G (2012) Monolithic nanoporous–crystalline aerogels based on PPO. RSC Adv 2: 12011-12018
  18. Longo S, Vitillo JG, Daniel C, Guerra G (2013) Monolithic aerogels based on poly(2,6- diphenyl-1,4-phenylene oxide) and syndiotactic polystyrene. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 5: 5493−5499
  19. Pennings AJ (1977) Bundle-like nucleation and longitudinal growth of fibrillar polymer crystals from flowing solutions. J Polym Sci Polym Symp 59: 55-86
  20. Barham PJ, Hill MJ , Keller A, (1980) Gelation and the production of surface grown polyethylene fibres. Colloid Polym Sci 258: 899-908
  21. Smith P, Lemstra PJ, Pijpers JPL, Kiel AM (1981) Ultra-drawing of high molecular weight polyethylene cast from solution. Colloid Polym Sci 259: 1070-1080
  22. Narh KA, Barham PJ, Keller A (1982) Effect of stirring on the gelation behavior of high-density polyethylene solutions. Macromolecules 15:464- 469
  23. Rouquerol J, Avnir D, Fairbridge CW, Everett DH, Haynes JH, Pernicone N, Ramsay JDF, Sing KSW, Unger KK (1994) Recommendations for the characterization of porous solids, Pure Appl Chem 66: 1739-1758
  24. Wang X, Jana SC (2013) Synergistic hybrid organic-inorganic aerogels. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 5: 6423-6429
  25. Daniel C, Longo S, Ricciardi R, Reverchon E, Guerra G (2013) Monolithic nanoporous crystalline aerogels. Macromol Rapid Commun 34:1194-1207
  26. Wei QF, Mather RR, Fotheringham AF, Yang RD (2003) Evaluation of nonwoven polypropylene oil sorbents in marine oil-spill recovery. Mar Pollut Bull 46: 780-783

Volume 2, Issue 1
Winter and Spring 2015
Pages 49-55
  • Receive Date: 07 November 2014
  • Revise Date: 05 December 2014
  • Accept Date: 09 December 2014