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DEVELOPMENT OF A RAPID AND INNOVATIVE IN-FACTORY PROCEDURE FOR TESTING THE PERFORMANCES OF PE PIPES CONTAINING VARIOUS PROPORTIONS OF RECYCLED POLYMER MATERIAL

 

Dominique GUEUGNAUT, Pascal AUSSANT, Romuald BOUAFFRE, Myriam BECHROURI

# 2021 Amsterdam

Concerns regarding the environment and sustainable development have revived interest in the reprocessing and re-use of polymer materials from manufactured objects that have reached the end of their operating life. Within this framework, formal professional agreements have been put in place at global level under the aegis of both the producers of plastic raw materials and the product manufacturers. Apart from the problem of the physicochemical compatibility of the polymers that are destined to be mixed - a problem which requires the implementation of methods for accurately characterizing the polymers prior to the manufacture of the pipes and fittings – it is also important to be able to precisely fix the respective quantities of the various constituents of the mix in order to ensure the desired performances. This paper presents a rapid and innovative procedure for testing PE100 pipes containing various proportions of recycled polyolefins. Thus, a limited number of relevant and complementary techniques were implemented, while keeping in mind the requirement that they be usablein a continuous and routine manner by the manufacturers of PE pipes and/or fittings. The main objective of the study was to correlate the responses of the various techniques that were applied to a set of standard polymer mixes produced under controlled conditions. The polymer mixes were PE100-based materials with different concentrations of recycled PE100/PP blends. One of the techniques employed, the well-known Stepwise Isothermal Segregation technique, which had previously been successfully used for the accurate characterization of PEs was specially adapted so as to cover a sufficiently broad range of mixes, including those already available and those that might be developed in the future. This technique, coupled with viscometric analysis which was also adapted to the range of mixes studied, allowed determining the signatures of the various mixes. In parallel with this analysis, pipes made from different mixes were subjected to hydraulic pressure testing at two stress levels corresponding to the demands of their intended use. The performances of the pipes under pressure are fairly correlated to the physicochemical parameters of the mixes as for instance the High Load Melt flow Index and the ratios of the crystallization enthalpies. Such correlation allows fixing the proportions of recycled PE100/PP material that must not be exceeded so that the mix PE100-recycled PE100/PP conserves the required performances in terms of the intended application. The overall methodology constitutes a good basis for further analysis of various PE-recycled PE-PP mixes.

Related keywords : Polyethylene pipes; Polypropylene; Recycled polymers; Stepwise Isothermal Segregation technique; High Load Melt Flow Index; Hydrostatic Pressure Tests..
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