Factors contributing to the degradation of poly(p-phenylene benzobisoxazole) (PBO) fibers under elevated temperature and humidity conditions
O'Neil, Joseph M
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The moisture absorption behavior of Zylon fibers was characterized in various high temperature and high humidity conditions in a controlled environment. The results of these thermal cycling tests show that PBO fibers not only absorb, but also retain moisture (approximately 0.5-3%) when exposed to elevated temperature and humidity cycles. Also, the impurities of Zylon fibers were characterized through the use of Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and solid state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). These tests demonstrated that, in addition to other impurities, PBO fibers may contain up to 0.55 weight percent phosphorus, and that this phosphorus is present in the form of phosphoric acid. It was also shown through accelerated hydrolytic degradation tests that production procedures used to neutralize the acid present in the fibers have a beneficial effect on the hydrolytic performance of the fiber. The data collected in this study was then compared and contrasted to known Kevlar studies, identifying similarities, differences, and potential trends. The results of these tests seem to indicate that there is accelerated acid catalyzed hydrolysis occurring in the fiber which is causing these fibers to degrade at an increased rate. This condition is further accelerated by heat and humidity induced permanent fiber swelling.