Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy is an information-rich method that reveals chemical bonding near the surface of polymer composites. FTIR can be used to verify composite composition, identify chemical contaminants and expose composite moisture content. Polymer matrix changes due to thermal exposure including loss of additives, chain scission, oxidation and changes in crystallinity may also be determined using FTIR spectra. Portable handheld instruments using non-contact reflectance or surface contact attenuated total reflectance (ATR) may be used for nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of thermal aging in polymer and composite materials of in-service components. We report the use of ATR FTIR to track oxidative thermal aging in ethylene-propylene rubber (EPR) and chlorinated polyethylene (CPE) materials used in medium voltage nuclear power plant electrical cable insulation and jacketing. Mechanical property changes of the EPR and CPE materials with thermal degradation for correlation with FTIR data are tracked using indenter modulus (IM) testing. IM is often used as a local NDE metric of cable jacket health. The FTIR-determined carbonyl index was found to increase with IM and may be a valuable NDE metric with advantages over IM for assessing cable remaining useful life.
Leonard S. Fifield, Yongsoon Shin, and Kevin L. Simmons, "Non-destructive evaluation of polyolefin thermal aging using infrared spectroscopy," Proc. SPIE 10169, Nondestructive Characterization and Monitoring of Advanced Materials, Aerospace, and Civil Infrastructure 2017, 101690U (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 27, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2261983.
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