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Microstructure Development in Viscoelastic Fluid Systems Open Access


Other title
drop deformation and breakup
polymer blends
viscoelastic fluid
morphology development
shear flow
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Li, Huaping
Supervisor and department
Uttandaraman Sundararaj (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Suzanne Kresta (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Subir Bhattacharjee (Mechanical Engineering)
Anthony Yeung (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Pierre Carreau (Chemical Engineering, École Polytechnique Montréal)
Uttandaraman Sundararaj (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This thesis deals with the mechanisms of microstructure development in polymer blends. Much work has been performed on the breakup process of immiscible systems where the dispersed phase is suspended inside another matrix. The fluids used were polymer melts or model viscoelastic fluids, and the processing flows were model shear flow or processing flows seen in industry. It is found that in industrial extruders or batch mixers, the morphology of the dispersed polymer evolves from pellets to films, and subsequently to fibers and particles. In this thesis, it is demonstrated based on force analysis that the in-situ graft reactive compatibilization facilitates breakup of the dispersed phase by suppressing slip at the interface of the dispersed phase and matrix phase. The morphology development of polymer blends in industrial mixers was simulated by performing experiments of model viscoelastic drop deformation and breakup under shear flow. Two distinct modes of drop deformation and breakup were observed. Namely, viscoelastic drops can elongate and breakup either in (1) the flow direction or (2) the vorticity direction. The first normal stress difference N1 plays a decisive role in the conditions and modes of drop breakup. Drop size is an important factor which determines to a great extent the mode of drop breakup and the critical point when the drop breakup mechanism changes. Small drops break along the vorticity direction, whereas large drops break in the flow direction. A dramatic change in the critical shear rate was found when going from one breakup mode to another. Polymer melts processed under shear flow present different morphology development mechanisms: films, fibers, vorticity elongation and surface instability. The mechanisms depend greatly on the rheological properties of both the dispersed and matrix phases, namely the viscosity ratio and elasticity ratio. High viscosity ratio and high elasticity ratio result elongation of the dispersed phase in the vorticity direction. Medium viscosity ratio and low elasticity ratio result in fiber morphology. Low viscosity ratio and high elasticity ratio result in film morphology. The surface instability is caused by the shear-thinning effect of the dispersed polymer.
License granted by Huaping Li ( on 2009-07-28 (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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