Plastics with UV absorbers, a “Protective umbrella”

August 4, 2021
blog

Almost all plastics that are exposed to sunlight or other outdoor weather conditions require protection. Plastics with UV absorbers inhibit or slow down the negative effects of UV light. For example, plastic products like plates, cables, pipes and other thick products. On the other hand, thin products like films needs protection too.

Radiation

The energy of the radiation is inversely proportional to the wavelength. In other words, the shorter the wavelength, the greater the energy. So shorter wavelength UV light has greater damage to polymers. The binding energy of organic polymers is usually in the range of 290 ~ 400 kJ/mol. Therefore it is also easy to destroy by UV light. Subsequently, ultraviolet radiation is the main factor of plastic photoaging.

Polymers such as plastics have many excellent properties due to their sufficiently long macromolecular chains. However, the polymer is easy to form in an electron-excited state after absorption of high-energy ultraviolet radiation. Molecules in this excited state can initiate a series of photochemical reactions known as free-radical chain reactions, and at the same time “photooxygen aging” or “photooxidation reaction” occurs. The cutting of the molecular chain or the cross-linking of the molecule has a direct influence on the properties of polymer materials, leading to a series of aging phenomena. For example, the color becomes darker, brittle, hard, surface cracks, mechanical and electrical properties decrease, ultimately resulting in loss of value in use.

Molecular structures

Polymers have different molecular structures and their resistance to UV light is also different. In other words, different polymer materials have different “photostability”. For ABS, SBS and other polymer materials containing unsaturated bonds (such as double bond), it is easy to absorb UV light and perform photo-oxidation reaction, so their photostability is poor. However, polymers containing only saturated chemical bonds that absorb less ultraviolet light are relatively stable.

Plastics with UV absorbers

UV absorbers contain a wide variety of compounds. Divided by structure, it mainly includes benzophenones, benzotriazole and triazine. The most commonly used substances in the plastics industry are benzophenone and benzotriazole.

At present, benzophenone is one of the popular additives in the actual production process. It absorbs almost all ultraviolet light regions. The key to the light stabilization is the presence of an ortho hydroxyl group in the molecular structure. Omnistab UV BP 12, Omnistab BP 2 & Omnistab BP 6 all fall into this category.

The photostability mechanism of benzotriazole UV absorbers is similar to that of Benzophenone. Hydrogen bonding rings also exist in the molecules of benzotriazole UV absorbers by hydroxyl oxygen and nitrogen on triazole group. When ultraviolet light is absorbed, hydrogen bonds break down, turning harmful ultraviolet energy into harmless heat energy. To prevent this, typical UV-absorbers are Omnistab UV P, Omnistab UV-326, Omnistab UV-327 & Omnistab UV-329.

Advice on use

In practical application, in order to improve and enhance the light stability of plastics, the addition of UV absorbers alone can not achieve the desired effect. Because the photoaging process of polymers is basically accompanied by oxidation. Therefore, it is necessary to take the characteristics of different materials and specific application environment, the characteristics, functions, compatibility, mobility, process ability, stability, synergism and other elements as the basis, in order to select the suitable additive formula for a certain polymer material. A combination with an anti oxidant and/or HALS will bring the most suitable effect. Contact us for the best recommendation for your application.

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