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Polymer degradation by radiolysis Enhancement by an efficient antirad strategy

SpecialChem / Jul 12, 2006

Polymers are used in the nuclear industry where they withstand more or less high radiation doses according to their location. Anybody, by analogy with the well-known health hazards, suspects the degradation risks. However we often forget that radiations are also commonly used for polymer processing or subsequent operations such as sterilization, crosslinking, polymerization, depolymerization, grafting... Polymers being often unsuitable as they are for these particular treatments, it is essential to carefully choose the polymer family and the additives and to upgrade the final compounds with special radiolytic or radiation stabilizers named antirads. Their use is tricky because of the versatility of the degradation concept. For example, the modulus increase due to crosslinking by radiation exposure can be a drawback because of the loss of flexibility or an advantage because of the rigidity enhancement. The effects of high-energy radiations or ionization are a balance between molecular breaking and molecular rearrangements such as crosslinking and cyclizations.

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