Organic solvents effect on the physical and mechanical properties of polyethylene

Document Type : Original research


1 Academy of Sciences, Institute of Macromolecular Compounds, 199004 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation

2 Russian Academy of Sciences, Ioffe Institute, 194021 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation

3 Slavneft-Krasnoyarskneftegaz Ltd., 660012 Krasnoyarsk, Russian Federation


Swelling of high-density polyethylene (PE) in organic solvents, orthodichlorobenzene and orthoxylene, was investigated. The swelling kinetics of the PE specimen was described by the first-order equation. For the first time, the PE specimen swelling rate constant was shown to decrease with increasing thickness of the specimens. The equilibrium swelling of the PE specimen was evaluated. It was found that equilibrium swelling is independent of the thickness of specimens. It was shown that storage of polyethylene specimens in organic solvents changes its mechanical properties (tensile strength, Young’s modulus, and elongation-at-break) due to polymer plasticization. We have shown that the increase in flexibility and elongation-at-break after relatively short-term immersion of PE samples in these organic solvents is significant. However, the tensile strength of swollen specimens remains high enough. The interaction between polymer chains and solvent molecules was not detected. The results obtained are important for the design and operation of PE coatings and PE products, such as pipes, tanks, and other accessories exposed to oil products.


Main Subjects

  1. Whiteley KS, Heggs TG, Koch H, Mawer RL, Immel W (2005) Polyolefins. In: Ullmann's encyclopedia of industrial chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim
  2. Plastics pipe institute (2008) In: Handbook of Polyethylene Pipe, 2nd ed., Irving, TX
  3. Ghabeche W, Chaoui K, Zeghib N (2019) Mechanical properties and surface roughness assessment of outer and inner HDPE pipe layers after exposure to toluene methanol mixture. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 103: 2207-2225
  4. Rehab-Bekkouche S, Kiass N, Chaoui K (2009) Effects of aggressive chemical environments on mechanical behavior of polyethylene piping material. In: Damage and fracture mechanics, Springer, Dordrecht, 49-57
  5. Schoeffl PF, Lang RW (2015) Effect of liquid oilfield-related media on slow crack growth behavior in polyethylene pipe grade materials. Int J Fatigue 72: 90-101
  6. Randová A, Bartovská L, Hovorka Š, Bartovský T, Izák P, Kárászová M, Vopička O, Lindnerová V (2017) New approach for description of sorption and swelling phenomena in liquid + polymer membrane systems. Sep Purif Technol 179: 475-485
  7. Erdmann M, Böhning M, Niebergall U (2019) Physical and chemical effects of biodiesel storage on high-density   polyethylene: Evidence of co-oxidation. Polym Degrad Stabil 161: 139-149
  8. ASTM D 638 (2014) Standard test method for tensile properties of plastics
  9. Schott H (1992) Kinetics of swelling of polymers and their gels. J Pharm Sci 81: 467-470
  10. Webster CE, Drago RS , Zerner MC (1998) Molecular dimensions for adsorptives. J Am Chem Soc 120: 5509-5516
  11. Abramovich AI, Alekseev ES, Bogdan TV (2019) Structure and physicochemical properties of acetonitrile–o-dichlorobenzene solutions. Russ J Phys Chem 93: 2108–2116
  12. Jassim KS, Abdullah AA, Al-Bayati AA (2012) Free volume  properties of beta-irradiated high density polyethylene (HDPE) studied by positron method. Am J Sci Res 52: 33-41
  13. Miller-Chou BA, Koenig JL (2003) A review of polymer dissolution. Prog Polym Sci 28: 1223- 1270
  14. Grulke EA (2009) Solubility parameter values. In: Polymer Handbook, 4th ed., Wiley, N.Y., Chapter VII: 675-711
  15. Ward IM, Sweeney J (2012) Mechanical properties of solid polymers, 3th ed, Wiley, Hoboken
  16. Krimm S, Liang CY, Sutherland GBBM (1956) Infrared spectra of high polymers II. Polyethylene. J Chem Phys 25: 549-562
  17. Painter PC, Coleman MM, Koenig JL (1982) The theory of vibrational spectroscopy and its application to polymeric materials, Wiley, N.Y.