Acid Aging Effects on Surfaces of PTFE Gaskets Investigated by Thermal Analysis
Authors: C. Fragassa, L. Giorgini, A. Pavlovic, G. Zattini
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This paper investigates the effect of a prolonged acid attack on the surface of PTFE by Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC). PTFE is very non-reactive, partly because of the strength of carbon?fluorine bonds and for its high crystallinity, and, as a consequence, it is often used in containers and pipework with reactive and corrosive chemicals. The PTFE under analysis is commercialized by two alternative producers in form of Teflon tapes. These tapes are adopted, as gaskets, in process plants where tires moulds are cleaned by acid solutions inside a multistage ultrasonic process. In this case, PTFE shows, in a relatively short operation time, inexplicably phenomena of surface degradation, which could be related, in general terms, to an acid attack. But, even considering the combined effect of ultrasonic waves, temperature, humidity and acid attack, the PTFE properties of resistance nominally exclude the risk of the extreme erosion phenomena as observed. The present experimental research aim at investigating this contradiction. A possible explanation could be related to the presence in the cleaning solution of unexpected fluorides, able to produce fluorinating agents and, thus, degrade carbon-fluorine bonds. Considering more the 300 chemical elements a tire compound consists in, it is really complex to preserve the original chemical composition of the cleaning solution. In this research PTFE samples have been treated with different mixtures of acids with the aim at investigating the different aging effects. The thermal analysis has permitted the experimental characterization of PTFE surface properties after acid attack, providing evidence of the degradation phenomena. In particular, the different acid treatments adopted for accelerating the aging of gaskets have highlighted the different behaviour of the PTFE matrix, but also differences between manufacturers.