X-rays show how water permeates barrier material (one pager)

Liquid crystalline polymers (LCP) have many desirable properties and could be used as an energy-efficient alternative to metal casings protecting sensitive equipment in harsh environments.

In a collaboration between researchers at Grundfos, University of Copenhagen, and Aarhus University, LCP materials were studied with X-rays after exposure to water and high temperature for long periods of time (more than a year). The purpose is to study the long-term stability of the material and understand the mechanisms of water permeation in the material.

The result of the project was an increased understanding of the mechanisms for water permeation in LCP materials which removed key uncertainties for Grundfos and helps pave the way for commercialization of the material in Grundfos products.

Technical details
The samples were measured at University of Copenhagen with small angle X-ray scattering to study changes in the polymer structure on the nanoscale and at Aarhus University with X-ray diffraction to study changes on atomic length scales. In combination, the two techniques show how water enters from the surface of the material and gradually breaks down large crystalline domains (>200 nm) into much smaller units about 50 nm in size. The overall crystallinity of the material is largely unchanged until very long exposure times where the crystallinity is lost in a thin surface layer.

Illustration: Gregory Neil Smith, University of Copenhagen.

Stay tuned for more!
In a new project a different polymer material (polyamide) is studied to help understand degradation mechanisms and to provide a method for determining whether a used part can be recycled or is too degraded. Grundfos use hundreds of tons of polyamide annually, and this project is part of an effort by Grundfos to recycle polyamide and thereby reducing the environmental footprint of their products. In the new project, Technical University of Denmark joins the team to add their expertise in X-ray imaging methods to the scattering techniques provided by the two other universities. The project is in its startup phase and should start to produce interesting results later in 2020. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the updates!

Read the whole One pager – Liquid crystalline polymers for protecting sensitive equipment.

Would you like to read other LINX One pagers?

Read other LINX news!