Silica-supported catalyst for the synthesis of low entangled UHMWPE suitable for solid-state processing

Huaqin Yang, Sanjay Lolage, Joris van der Eem, Sanjay Rastogi*, Dario Romano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Different types of silica (mesoporous, spherical and nano-size particles), pre-activated with methylaluminoxane (MAO), are used to activate and support the bis[N-(3‑tert-butylsalicydene)-2,3,4,5,6-pentafluoroanilinato] titanium(IV) dichloride (FI) complex with the aim to synthesize low-entangled UHMWPE having controlled particle morphology. Through the porosity analysis, nitrogen adsorption and desorption isotherms, a decreased surfaced area of the chosen silica is observed when supported by MAO. From the bonding energy study by XPS, the bonding energy difference of Si and O, between the nano-size silica and in the MAO-nano silica, suggests the formation of Al-O-Si after chemical activation with MAO. Using elementary analysis, ICP-OES and XPS characterization, the aluminum content grafted on the silica surface is found to match with the anticipated amount of MAO on the MAO-Silica/FI catalytic system, indicating a stable grafting after catalyst supporting. From the rheological studies of the polymers, coupled with DSC results using an isothermal crystallization protocol, the resultant entangled state in the semi-crystalline polymers is estimated. The observations are that the entangled state achieved during polymerization from the investigated heterogeneous catalytic systems, is the lowest in PE-MAO-nano silica/FI, increases in PE-MAO-mesoporous silica/FI and is highest in PE-MAO-spherical silica/FI. Silica modification using two different silanes shows significant influence on the catalytic activity, giving lower polymer yield in MAO-modified-mesoporous silica and MAO-modified-nano silica compared to the unmodified MAO-silica. Whereas, no significant spatial effect is observed in the formation of chain entanglement, showing the increased entanglement density of the nascent polymers. By employing heterogeneous catalytic systems, reactor fouling and wall sheeting problems are resolved and the polymers show good morphology replication of the support. The UHMWPE synthesized using the nano silica as support, having the lowest entangled state and loosely packed crystals, can be uniaxially processed in the solid-state to a thin tape having thickness around 34 μm, showing maximum tensile strength of 3.26 N/tex and tensile modulus of 170 N/tex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113668
JournalMolecular Catalysis
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


  • Entanglement
  • FI catalyst
  • Heterogeneous
  • Supporting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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