Environmental Stress Cracking of Polymers

Environmental Stress Cracking of Polymers

Environmental Stress Cracking (ESC) of polymers is the phenomenon where the polymer experiences premature cracking and embrittlement due to the simultaneous action of stress, strain, and specific fluid contact.

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    Environmental Stress Cracking of Polymers

    Environmental Stress Cracking (ESC) of polymers, also known as environmental assisted cracking, is the phenomenon where the polymer experiences premature cracking and embrittlement due to the simultaneous action of stress, strain, and specific fluid contact. This process is similar to the stress corrosion cracking in metals. 

    In environmental stress cracking the polymer does not fail by the sole action of stress or corrosive fluid contact alone, but by a combined action of both. The corrosive fluids are called “secondary chemical agents” and are mostly those solvents that would normally not come into contact with the polymer during its operational life. 

    It is important to note that ESC breaks the secondary linkages between polymers and not the polymer bonds. Some of the factors that accelerate ESC are high temperature, fatigue, and cyclic loading. 

    Common Uses of Environmental Stress Cracking Testing 

    • Analyzing the operational life of a polymer

    Advantages of Environmental Stress Cracking Testing

    • Consumes less time than accelerated tests.
    • Results are reliable. 

    Industrial Application of Environmental Stress Cracking Testing 

    • Polymer industry
    • Medical equipment
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