|Title of Invention
SEMICONDUCTIVE CROSSLINKABLE POLYMER COMPOSITION
|The present invention relates to a crosslinkable polymer composition which is useful for the preparation of semiconductive layers of electric cables, the polymer composition comprising (a) an unsaturated polyolefin having at least 0.15 vinyl groups/1000 carbon atoms and (b) carbon black.
|Semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition
The present invention relates to crosslinkable polymer compositions which
are useful for the preparation of semiconductive layers of electric cables.
Electric cables, in particular electric power cables for medium and high
voltages, are made of a plurality of polymer layers extruded around the
electric conductor. The electric conductor is usually coated first with an
inner semiconducting layer, followed by an insulating layer, then an outer
semiconducting layer. To these layers, further layers may be added, such as
water-barrier layer and a sheath layer.
Normally, the insulating layer and the semiconducting layer are made of
ethylene homo- and/or copolymers which are preferably crosslinked.
Nowadays, low density polyethylene, crosslinked by adding peroxide com-
pounds, is the predominant cable-insulating material. The inner semi-
conducting layer normally comprises an ethylene copolymer, such as an
ethylene-ethylacrylate copolymer or an ethylene-butylacrylate copolymer.
Outer semiconducting layers can be strippable or non-strippable. Normally,
a strippable semiconducting layer comprises an ethylene copolymer in
combination with an acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber and sufficient carbon
black to make the composition semiconducting. A non-strippable outer
semiconducting layer may comprise an ethylene-butylacrylate copolymer
together with an amount of carbon black sufficient to make the composition
The amount of carbon black added to make the polymeric material semi-
conductive does not only affect electrical properties but also a number of
other properties like compounding behavior relavant for the manufacturing
of the semiconductive material and extrusion behavior as well as formation
of scorch of the final product.
For compounding, the surface area of carbon black particles has to be wet-
ted by the polymeric melt to result in a homogeneous blend. However,
since carbon black particles usually have a large specific surface area, even
a small reduction in carbon black content facilitates the compounding in
terms of compounding rate and consistency (i.e. obtaining consistently a
There is also a relationship between the amount of carbon black and the
rheological properties of the resultant polymeric material. As a general
rule, viscosity at a given shear rate increases with increasing carbon black
content. Furthermore, increasing viscosity with decreasing shear rate/shear
stress is typical for polymers having a high content of filler particles. In
dies of complex geometry, there may exist regions of low shear forces.
Thus, in these regions, the viscosity is very high and, if exceeding a certain
limit, the melt does not pass these regions at a sufficiently high rate. As
explained above, insulating and semi-conductive layers are preferably made
of crosslinked polyethylene, wherein crosslinking is initiated in a vulcaniz-
ing tube by crosslinking agents such as peroxides. However, if a significant
amount of peroxide already decomposes in the extruder, thereby initiating
premature crosslinking, this will result in so-called "scorch", i.e. formation
of inhomogeneity, gel-like areas, surface-unevenness of the extruded poly-
mer etc. To suppress the formation of scorch as much as possible, it is de-
sired to minimize residence time of the polymeric melt including the perox-
ide within the above mentioned regions of low shear forces. Again, with
regard to reduction of scorch, less carbon black would be favored.
In EP-A-0929606, the formation of scorch was reduced by blending a si-
lane-containing polyethylene with carbon black having a surface area of
In EP-A-1125306, the amount of carbon black was reduced by providing a
specific non-uniform ethylene-alkyl(meth)acrylate.
On the other hand, for providing semiconductive cable layers, the amount
of carbon black must be sufficiently high. Thus, simply reducing the carbon
black content of existing polymer compositions might improve compound-
ing and extrusion behavior but inevitably results in material of high volume
resistivity which is not appropriate for semiconductive polymers to be used
in power cables.
To improve resistance to thermal and mechanical stress, polymers extruded
onto a cable conductor are preferably crosslinked. For crosslinking, the ca-
ble is passed through a vulcanization tube, where the cable is heated to ac-
tivate the crosslinking agent, e.g. peroxides, and initiate crosslinking. To
increase production rate, the cable is preferably passed through the vul-
canization tube at high line speed. However, at high line speed, the degree
of crosslinking might be too low for sufficiently improving thermal and
mechanical properties. Thus, to improve production rate, it is desired to
have a high crosslinking efficiency, i.e. a high degree of crosslinking ob-
tained within a short period of time. However, any increase of crosslinking
efficiency (e.g. by increasing the peroxide content) should not be at the ex-
pense of other relevant properties such as compounding, scorch behavior
and volume resistivity.
Furthermore, as explained above, if a significant amount of peroxide al-
ready decomposes in the extruder, this will result in so-called scorch.
Therefore, to suppress the formation of scorch as much as possible, the
amount of peroxide needed to sufficiently crosslink the semiconductive ma-
terial is preferably reduced. However, with too low amounts of peroxide,
the degree of crosslinking might be too low for sufficiently improving
thermal and mechanical properties. Thus, to improve extrusion behaviour in
terms of scorch formation, it is desired to have a high crosslinking effi-
ciency, i.e. a high degree of crosslinking obtained with a low amount of
peroxide. Optimally, no peroxide is present within the semiconductive ma-
terial during the extrusion step. However, any decrease of crosslinking
agent should not be at the expense of other relevant properties such as
compounding behavior, cable production rate and volume resistivity.
Considering the problems mentioned above, it is an object of the present
invention to provide a semiconductive polymer composition wherein the
amount of carbon black and/or the amount of peroxide can be reduced
without adversely affecting semi-conducting properties. Furthermore, there
should be a good balance between crosslinking efficiency, suppression of
scorch and reduction of volume resistivity.
This object is solved by providing a semi-conductive crosslinkable polymer
(a) an unsaturated polyolefm having at least 0.15 vinyl groups/1000 car-
bon atoms, and
(b) carbon black.
The content of unsaturation, generated by incorporating vinyl groups within
the polyolefm component, enables to accomplish improved crosslinking
properties. In a preferred embodiment, the number of vinyl groups is at
least 0.20/1000 carbon atoms. In other preferred embodiments, it is at least
0.25, at least 0.30, at least 0.35, at least 0.40, at least 0.45, at least 0.55 or
at least 0.60 vinyl groups/1000 carbon atoms.
In the present invention, it might be preferred to keep the number of vinyl
groups within a certain range to improve balance between properties like
crosslinking efficiency, scorch and electrical conductivity. Preferably, the
number of vinyl groups is from 0.35 to 3, even more preferably from 0.40
to 1/1000 carbon atoms.
Preferred unsaturated polyolefins of the present invention may have densi-
ties higher than 0.860, 0.880, 0.900, 0.910, 0.915, 0.917, or 0.920 g/cm3.
The polyolefin can be unimodal or multimodal, e.g. bimodal.
Preferably, the unsaturated polyolefin has a melt flow rate MFR2.16/190°c of
0.1 to 50 g/10 min, more preferably 0.3 to 20 g/10 min, even more prefera-
bly 1.0 to 15 g/10 min, and most preferably 2.0 to 10 g/10 min.
Preferably, the unsaturated polyolefin is prepared by copolymerising at
least one olefin monomer with at least one polyunsaturated comonomer. In
a preferred embodiment, the polyunsaturated comonomer consists of a
straight carbon chain with at least 8 carbon atoms and at least 4 carbon at-
oms between the non-conjugated double bonds, of which at least one is
Ethylene and propylene are preferred olefin monomers. Most preferably,
ethylene is used as the olefin monomer. As a comonomer, a diene com-
pound is preferred, e.g. 1,7-octadiene, 1,9-decadiene, 1,11-dodecadiene,
1,13-tetradecadiene, or mixtures thereof. Furthermore, dienes like 7-
methyl-l,6-octadiene, 9-methyl-l,8-decadiene, or mixtures thereof can be
mentioned. Unsaturated polyethylene of low density is preferred, e.g. un-
saturated polyethylene having a density within the range of 0.915 to 0.939
g/cm3. In a preferred embodiment, the unsaturated polyethylene contains at
least 50 wt-% ethylene monomer units. In other preferred embodiments, the
unsaturated polyethylene contains at least 60 wt-%, at least 70 wt-%, at
least 80 wt-% or at least 85 wt-% ethylene monomer units.
If the unsaturated polyolefin is an unsaturated polyethylene, its melt flow
rate MFR2.16/190oc is preferably 0.1 to 50 g/10 min, more preferably 0.3 to
20 g/10 min, even more preferably 1.0 to 15 g/10 min.
Siloxanes having the following formula:
CH2=CH-[Si(CH3)2-0]n-Si(CH3)2-CH=CH2, wherein n=l or higher
can also be used as a polyunsaturated comonomer. As an example, divinyl-
siloxanes, e.g. α,ω-divinylsiloxane, can be mentioned.
In addition to the polyunsaturated comonomer, further comonomers can
optionally be used. Such optional comonomers are selected from C3-C2o
alpha-olefins such as propylene, 1-butene, 1-hexene and 1-nonene, polar
comonomers such as acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, acrylates, methacry-
lates or acetates.
As an example, the crosslinkable polymer composition may contain polar
comonomer units, such as 1-50 wt.-%, 3-25 wt.-% and 5-20 wt.-% polar
comonomer units per gram of unsaturated polyolefin.
Still more preferably, the polar unsaturated polyolefin comprises a copoly-
mer of ethylene with C1 to C4 acrylates, such as methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl
acrylates or vinyl acetates.
The unsaturated polyolefin can be produced by any conventional polymeri-
sation process. Preferably, it is produced by radical polymerisation, such as
high pressure radical polymerisation. High pressure polymerisation can be
effected in a tubular reactor or an autoclave reactor. Preferably, it is a tubu-
lar reactor. In general, the pressure can be within the range of 1200-3500
bars and the temperature can be within the range of 150°C-350°C. Further
details about high pressure radical polymerisation are given in
WO93/08222, which is herewith incorporated by reference. However, the
unsaturated polyolefm can also be prepared by other types of polymerisa-
tion, such as coordination polymerisation, e.g. in a low pressure process,
with Ziegler-Natta, chromium, single site/dual site, metallocene (for exam-
ple transition metal catalysts), non-metallocenes (for example late transi-
tion metals). The transition and late transition metal compounds are found
in groups 3-10 in the periodic table (IUPAC 1989). These catalysts can be
used in the supported and non-supported mode, i.e. with and without car-
According to the present invention, the semiconductive crosslinkable
polymer composition further comprises carbon black.
The semiconductive properties result from the carbon black added to the
unsaturated polyolefm. Thus, the amount of carbon black is at least such
that a semiconducting composition is obtained. Depending on the desired
use and conductivity of the composition, the amount of carbon black can
vary. Preferably, the crosslinking polymer composition comprises 15-50
wt% carbon black, based on the weight of the semiconductive crosslinkable
composition. In other preferred embodiments, the amount of carbon black
is 10-45 wt.-%, 20-45 wt%, 30-45 wt%, 35-45 wt% or 36-41 wt%, based on
the weight of the semiconductive crosslinkable composition.
Any carbon black can be used which is electrically conductive. Examples
of suitable carbon blacks include furnace blacks and acetylene blacks.
Suitable furnace blacks may have a primary particle size less than 29nm
measured according to A.STM D-3849. Many suitable furnace blacks of this
category are characterized by an iodine number between 60 and 300mg/g
according to ASTM D-1510 and an oil absorption number between 50 and
- o -
Suitable furnace blacks may have a primary particle size of greater than
28nm measured according to ASTM D-3849. Many suitable furnace blacks
of this category are characterized by an iodine number between 30 and
200mg/g according to ASTM D-1510 and an oil absorption number be-
tween 80 and 300 ml/100g.
Other suitable carbon blacks can be made by any other process or be fur-
Suitable carbon blacks for semiconductive cable layers are preferably char-
acterized by their cleanliness. Therefore, preferred carbon blacks have an
ash-content of less than 0.2 wt-% measured according to ASTM-1506, a
325 mesh sieve residue of less than 30ppm according to ASTM D-1514 and
have less than 1 wt-% total sulphur according to ASTM-1619.
Most preferred are extra-clean carbon blacks having an ash-content of less
than 0.05 wt-% measured according to ASTM-1506, a 325 mesh sieve resi-
due of less than 15ppm according to ASTM D-1514 and have less than 0.05
wt-% total sulphur according to ASTM-1619.
Preferably, the semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition has a
volume resistivity, measured at 90°C, of less than 500000 Ohm • cm, more
preferably less than 100000 Ohm • cm, even more preferably less than
50000 Ohm • cm. Volume resistivity is in a reciprocal relationship to elec-
trical conductivity, i.e. the lower resistivity, the higher is conductivity.
As discussed above, an unsaturated polyolefin having at least 0.15 vinyl
groups/1000 carbon atoms and carbon black are essential components of
the semiconductive crosslinkable composition of the present invention. In a
preferred embodiment, the crosslinkable semiconductive polymer composi-
tion comprises (a) an unsaturated polyolefin having 0.35 to 3.0, even more
preferably 0.40 to 1.0 vinyl groups/1000 carbon atoms, prepared by polym-
erizing ethylene with a diene comonomer, optionally in the presence of a
further comonomer like propylene and (b) 30 to 45 wt%, even more pref-
erably 36 to 41 wt% carbon black, based on the weight of the crosslinkable
semiconductive polymer composition.
According to a preferred embodiment, the semiconductive crosslinkable
polymer composition further comprises a crosslinking agent.
In the context of the present invention, a crosslinking agent is defined to be
any compound which can initiate radical polymerisation. A crosslinking
agent can be a compound capable of generating radicals when decomposed
but also comprises the radicals obtained after decomposition. Preferably,
the crosslinking agent contains at least one -O-O- bond or at least one -
N=N- bond. More preferably, the cross-linking agent is a peroxide and/or a
radical obtained therefrom after thermal decomposition.
The cross-linking agent, e.g. a peroxide, is preferably added in an amount
of less than 3.0 wt.-%, more preferably 0.2-2.6 wt.-%, even more prefera-
bly 0.3-2.2 wt.-%, based on the weight of the crosslinkable polymer com-
position. To have a good balance between scorch and crosslinking effi-
ciency, it might be preferred to add the crosslinking agent, in particular a
peroxide, in an amount of 0.3 to 1.0 wt%, even more preferably 0.4 to 0.8
wt%, based on the weight of the semiconductive crosslinkable composition.
The cross-linking agent may be added to the semiconductive crosslinkable
composition during the compounding step (i.e. when the unstaturated poly-
olefm is mixed with the carbon black), or after the compounding step in a
separate process, or during the semiconductive crosslinkable composition is
extruded, or after the extrusion, e.g. by diffusion of cross-linking radicals
from another cable layer into the semiconductive layer.
As peroxides used for crosslinking, the following compounds can be men-
tioned: di-tert-amylperoxide, 2,5-di(tert-butylperoxy)-2,5-dimethyl-3-
hexyne, 2,5-di(tert-butylperoxy)-2,5-dimethylhexane, tert-butylcumylper-
oxide, di(tert-butyl)peroxide, dicumylperoxide, di(tert-butylperoxy-
isopropyl)benzene, butyl-4,4-bis(tert-butylperoxy)valerate, 1, l-bis(tert-
butylperoxy)-3,3,5-trimethylcyclohexane, tert-butylperoxybenzoate, diben-
Preferably, the peroxide is selected from 2,5-di(tert-butylperoxy)-2,5-
dimethyl-hexane, di(tert-butylperoxy-isopropyl)benzene, dicumylperoxide,
tert-butylcumylperoxide, di(tert-butyl)peroxide, or mixtures thereof. Most
preferably, the peroxide is di(tert-butylperoxy-isopropyl)benzene.
The semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition may comprise fur-
ther additives. As possible additives, antioxidants, scorch retarders,
crosslinking boosters, stabilisers, processing aids, flame retardant addi-
tives, acid scavengers, inorganic fillers, voltage stabilizers, additives for
improving water tree resistance, or mixtures thereof can be mentioned.
A "scorch retarder" is defined to be a compound that reduces the formation
of scorch during extrusion of a polymer composition if compared to the
same polymer composition extruded without said compound. Besides
scorch retarding properties, the scorch retarder may simultaneously result
in further effects like boosting, i.e. enhancing crosslinking performance.
Useful scorch retarders can be selected from 2,4-diphenyl-4-methyl-l-pentene,
substituted or unsubstituted diphenylethylene, quinone derivatives, hydro-
quinone derivatives, monofunctional vinyl containing esters and ethers, or
mixtures thereof. More preferably, the scorch retarder is selected from 2,4-
diphenyl-4-methyl-l-pentene, substituted or unsubstituted diphenylethyl-
ene, or mixtures thereof. Most preferably, the scorch retarder is 2,4-
Preferably, the amount of scorch retarder is within the range of 0.005 to 1.0
wt.-%, more preferably within the range of 0.01 to 0.8 wt-%, based on the
weight of the crosslinkable polyolefm composition. Further preferred
ranges are 0.03 to 0.75 wt-%, 0.05 to 0.70 wt-% and 0.10 to 0.50 wt-%,
based on the weight of the crosslinkable polyolefm composition.
Typical cross-linking boosters may include compounds having an allyl
group, e.g. triallylcyanurate, triallylisocyanurate, and di-, tri- or tetra-
As antioxidant, sterically hindered or semi-hindered phenols, aromatic
amines, aliphatic sterically hindered amines, organic phosphates, thio com-
pounds, polymerized 2,2,4-trimethyl-l,2-dihydroquinoline and mixtures
thereof, can be mentioned.
Preferably, the antioxidant is selected from the group of diphenyl amines
and diphenyl sulfides. The phenyl substituents of these compounds may be
substituted with further groups such as alkyl, alkylaryl, arylalkyl or hy-
Preferably, the phenyl groups of diphenyl amines and diphenyl sulfides are
substituted with tert.-butyl groups, preferably in meta or para position,
which may bear further substituents such as phenyl groups.
More preferred, the antioxidant is selected from the group of 4,4'-
bis(l,rdimethylbenzyl)diphenylamine, para-oriented styrenated diphenyl-
amines, 6,6'-di-tert.-butyl-2,2'-thiodi-p-cresol, tris(2-tert.-butyl-4-thio-(2'-
erized 2,2,4-trimethyl-l,2-dihydroquinoline, or derivatives thereof.
Of course, not only one of the above-described antioxidants may be used
but also any mixture thereof.
If an antioxidant, optionally a mixture of two or more antioxidants, is used,
the added amount can range from 0.005 to 2.5 wt-%, based on the weight of
the unsaturated polyolefm. If the unsaturated polyolefm is an unsaturated
polyethylene, the antioxidant(s) are preferably added in an amount of 0.005
to 1.0 wt-%, more preferably 0.01 to 0.80 wt-%, even more preferably 0.05
to 0.60 wt-%, based on the weight of the unsaturated polyethylene. If the
unsaturated polyolefm is an unsaturated polypropylene, the antioxidant(s)
are preferably added in an amount of 0.005 to 2 wt-%, more preferably 0.01
to 1 wt-%, even more preferably 0.05 to 0.5 wt-%, based on the weight of
the unsaturated polypropylene.
Further additives may be present in an amount of 0.005 to 3 wt%, more
preferably 0.005 to 2 wt%. Flame retardant additives and inorganic fillers
can be added in higher amounts.
From the semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition comprising at
least one of the crosslinking agents as defined above, preferably a peroxide,
a semiconductive crosslinked polymer composition can be prepared by
treatment under crosslinking conditions, e.g. by heat treatment.
Preferably, the semiconductive crosslinked polymer composition has a vol-
ume resistivity, measured at 90°C, of less than 500000 Ohm • cm, more
preferably less than 100000 Ohm • cm, even more preferably less than
50000 Ohm • cm.
Furthermore, the semiconductive crosslinked polymer composition prefera-
bly has a hot set value, measured according to IEC 811-2-1, of less than
300 %>, more preferably less than 200 %, and even more preferably less
than 100 %. Hot set values are related to the degree of crosslinking. The
lower a hot set value, the higher is the degree of crosslinking.
From the semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition of the present
invention, a multi-layered article can be prepared by applying said compo-
sition onto a substrate, preferably by extrusion.
To the semiconductive crosslinkable polyolefm composition, a crosslinking
agent, preferably a peroxide, can be added.As already explained above, the
point in time for adding the crosslinking agent can be varied. As an exam-
ple, the crosslinking agent may be added to the semiconductive crosslink-
able polymer composition when the unsaturated polyolefm is mixed with
the carbon black in a compounding step, or after the compounding step in a
separate process step. Furthermore, the crosslinking agent may be added
during extrusion of the semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition.
As a further alternative, the crosslinking agent can be added during and/or
after application of the semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition
onto the substrate. In this preferred embodiment, the crosslinking agent can
be provided in an external reservoir from which it can migrate into the
layer comprising the semiconductive crosslinkable composition. In the con-
text of the present invention, an "external reservoir" is a reservoir which is
not part of the layer comprising the semiconductive crosslinkable composi-
tion. Preferably, the external reservoir is another layer also applied onto the
substrate and containing the crosslinking agent. As explained above, the
term "crosslinking agent" has to be defined in a broad sense. Thus, the
other layer acting as a reservoir may comprise compounds not yet decom-
posed but may also comprise radicals resulting from decomposition. From
the other layer, the crosslinking agent migrates to the layer comprising the
semiconductive crosslinkable composition. Thus, since the crosslinking
agent is provided from an external reservoir during and/or after having
been applied onto the substrate, the semiconductive crosslinkable polymer
composition of the present invention can be extruded without crosslinking
agent or at least with a very low amount of crosslinking agent.
In a preferred embodiment, the other layer acting as an external crosslink-
ing agent reservoir is provided adjacent to the layer comprising the semi-
conductive crosslinkable polymer composition to facilitate migration of the
crosslinking agent. If necessary, migration is enhanced by thermal treat-
ment of one of these layers or both layers.
When sufficient crosslinking agent has been diffused into the semiconduc-
tive crosslinkable composition, said composition can be treated under
crosslinking conditions. If peroxides are used, crosslinking can be effected
by raising the temperature to at least 160-170°C.
Even if the crosslinking agent is added to the semiconductive crosslinkable
polymer composition by migration from an external reservoir, it is possible
to obtain a semiconductive polymer composition sufficiently crosslinked,
as will be further demonstrated below in examples 11-12.
Preferably, crosslinking results in a multilayered article having at least one
layer in which the semiconductive crosslinked polymer composition has a
hot set value, measured according to IEC 811-2-1, of less than 300 %, more
preferably less than 200 %, and even more preferably less than 100 %.
In a preferred embodiment, the multi-layered article is a power cable, i.e.
the crosslinkable composition is extruded onto a metallic conductor and/or
at least one coating layer thereof for the preparation of a power cable.
Preferably, it is the inner semiconductive layer which is prepared from the
semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition by treatment under
crosslinking conditions. However, it is also possible to prepare the inner
and the outer semiconductive layer from the crosslinkable polymer compo-
Preferably, the crosslinked semiconductive polymer composition, which
may be present as a power cable coating layer, satisfies the following rela-
VR • CB • HS/1000000 wherein
VR: volume resistivity in Ohm • cm, measured at 90°C,
CB: wt% carbon black, based on the total weight of the crosslinked
semi-conductive polymer composition, and
HS hot set value in %, measured according to IEC 811-2-1.
More preferable, VR • CB • HS/1000000 1000.
VR and HS are determined for a composition extruded as an inner cable
layer at a line speed of 2.2 m/min.
According to another preferred embodiment, the crosslinked semiconduc-
tive polymer composition satisfies the following relationship:
VR • CB • HS • S/1000000 wherein
VR, CB and HS have the same meaning as indicated above and S is the
scorch volume in %, measured at 134.5°C. Again, VR and HS are deter-
mined for a composition extruded as an inner cable layer at a line speed of
More preferable, VR • CB • HS • S/1000000 S
Preferably, the semi conductive crosslinked polymer composition has a vol-
ume resistivity, measured at 90°C, of less than 500000 Ohm •cm, even
more preferably less than 100000 Ohm •cm, and most preferably less than
50000 Ohm •cm.
In the present invention, the use of an unsaturated polyolefm having at least
0.15 vinyl groups/1000 carbon atoms does not only increase crosslinking
efficiency and production rate but also enables to reduce carbon black con-
tent without adversely affecting volume resistivity. Furthermore, scorch
can be suppressed effectively. Thus, even when the amount of carbon black
is reduced, there is still a good balance between volume resistivity and
scorch behavior. The improved balance enables to obtain a crosslinked
semiconductive polymer composition satisfying the relationships men-
The invention is now further elucidated by making reference to the follow-
Testing methods/measuring methods
a) Determination of the content of double bonds
The procedure for the determination of the number of vinyl groups/1000 C-
atoms is based on the ASTM D-3124-72 method. In that method, a detailed
description for the determination of vinyliden groups/1000 C-atoms is
given based on 2,3-dimethyl-l,3-butadiene. This sample preparation proce-
dure has been applied for the determination of vinyl groups/1000 C-atoms
in the present invention. However, for the determination of the extinction
coefficient for vinyl groups, 1-decene has been used, and the procedure as
described in ASTM D-3124 section 9 was followed.
The degree of unsaturation was analyzed by means of IK-spectrometry and
given as the number of vinyl bonds.
The pure polymer is pressed at 150°C into a thin film and cooled down to
room temperature. The thickness of the film is about 0.8-1.2 mm. The in-
frared absorbance of the film is measured by a Perkin-Elmer FT-IR spec-
trometer Spectro 2000.
The IR absorbance of the vinyl characteristic peak is determined from its
peak height over a base line.
The peak is defined by the maximum absorbance in the wave number range
from 904-920 cm"1. The base line is defined through a linear connection
between two points. These two points are set at the lowest absorbance in
the wave number range from 910-990 cm "' and from 810-880 cm"1, respec-
The concentration of vinyl groups is expressed as the number of vinyl
groups per 1000 carbon atoms in a polymer chain. This value is calculated
from the infrared absorbance as determined above.
The absorbance A (peak height at 910 cm -1), is related to the number of
vinyl groups according to
vinyl/1000 C-atoms = (14 x A )/13.13 x L x D),
L is the thickness (in mm) of the measured polymer film, and
D is the density (g/cm3) of the same film.
b) Melt flow rate
The melt flow rate is equivalent to the term "melt index" and is determined
according to ISO 1133 and is indicated in g/10 min. Melt flow rate is de-
termined at different loadings, such as 2.16 kg (MFR2) used for characteriz-
ing the base polymer or 21.6 kg (MFR21) for the semiconductive composi-
tion. Melt flow rate is determined at a temperature of 190°C.
c) Melt pressure/pressure of the inner semiconductive layer during ca-
Cables with three layers have been made using the semiconductive compo-
sition as inner and outer layer. The middle insulation layer is formed of
low-density polyethylene LDPE (MFR2=2 g/10 min) containing 2 wt-% of
dicumyl peroxide and 0.2 wt-% of 4,4'-thiobis(2-tert.-butyl-5-
The construction of the cables is 50 mm stranded Al-conductor and 5.5
mm thick insulation. The inner and outer semiconductive layers have a
thickness of 0.9 mm and 0.8 mm, respectively. The cable line is a catenary
Nokia Mailefer 1+2 system, thus one extrusion head for the inner conduct-
ing layer and another for the insulation + outer semiconductive layer. The
semiconductive layers have been exruded by a extruder of 45mm diameter
and of a 24 length:diameter ration (L/D). The insulation layer has been
exruded by a extruder of 60mm diameter and of a 24 L/D. The cables is
cross-linked in the vulcanization tube using nitrogen and afterwards cooled
in water. Cables were produced at different line speeds, i.e. 1.6, 2.2 and 2.4
The term melt pressure refers to the pressure of the molten semiconductive
composition measured at the tip of the extruder screw during production of
d) Volume resistivity
The volume resisitivity of the semiconductive material is measured on
crosslinked polyethylene cables according to ISO 3915 (1981).
Cable specimens having a length of 13.5 cm are conditioned at 1 atm and
60 ± 2°C for 5 ± 0.5 hours before measurement. The resistance of the outer
semiconductive layer is measured using a four-terminal system using metal
wires pressed against the semiconductive layer. To measure the resistance
of the inner semiconductive layer, it is necessary to cut the cable in two
halves, removing the metallic conductor. The resistance between the con-
ductive silver paste applied onto the specimen ends is then used to deter-
mine the volume resistivity of the inner semiconductive layer. The meas-
urements were carried out at room temperature and 90°C.
The same procedure is used to determine the volume resistivity of composi-
tions that have not yet been crosslinked.
A laboratory extruder is used with a specifically designed die for the
evaluation of scorch in the die. A die with a relatively long channel (about
25 mm in diameter and about 80 mm long) and a high residence time is
used to promote scorch.
The test can be carried out at a range of selected temperatures and uses a
constant output of about 1 kg/h. The material is run continuously for at
least 5 hours. After the test, the hot sample in the die is taken out. The
amount of scorch is measured in the sample by examining 0.2-0.3 mm cross
sections taken from 6 different position. The volume of scorch in the 6
cross sections is measured by the use of a microscope. The mean value of
the 6 cross sections is reported. Further information about the measurement
of scorch volume can be found in EP 1 188 788 Al under the headline
"Scorch (BTM 22527)".
f) Hot set
Specimen having been cut from the inner semi-conductive layers of the ca-
bles described above. Hot set has been measured according to TEC 811-2-1.
Hot set values are related to the degree of crosslinking, i.e. the higher a hot
set value, the lower the degree of crosslinking.
g) Shear rate/shear stress/shear viscosity
Shear rate, shear stress and shear viscosity were determined in a Rosand
capillary rheometer having a piston diameter of 15 mm, a die length of 20
mm, a die diameter of 1 mm and a die inlet angle of 180°. The preheating
time was 10 minutes and the measurement temperature was 130°C.
Examples 1 to 10
6 semiconductive polymer compositions A-F according to the present in-
vention were prepared. Furthermore, 4 comparative compositions Ref. 1 to
Ref. 4 were prepared. All the compositions are based on ethylene buty-
lacrylate copolymer with similar butylacrylate content and MFR (table 1).
However, for compositions A-F, an increased amount of double bonds was
introduced into the polyethylene by effecting polymerization of ethylene
with 1,7-octadiene as a polyunsaturated comonomer. Each polymerization
reaction was carried out in a high pressure tubular reactor at a pressure of
2000-2500 bar and a temperature of 200-300°C.
In Table 1, the relationship between the amount of unsaturation, indicated
by the number of vinyl groups per 1000 carbon atoms, and the amount of
1,7-octadiene is shown. In these runs, octadiene was added to the reactor
and after having reached a stable octadiene concentration, samples were
taken and analyzed. The results are compared to an ethylene butylacrylate
copolymer made under the same conditions but without adding 1,7-
Table 1: Relationship between a diene comonomer and vinyl groups
added [wt%] Vinyl groups per
1000 carbons MFR2.16, 190°C
[g/10min] butylacrylate ana-
0 0.10 ~8 ~17
0 0.10 =8 ~17
0.3 0.16 7.8 16.3
0.6 0.23 8.5 18
0.9 0.38 7.4 . 18.4
1.2 0.46 7.2 16.8
The results of Table 1 clearly indicate that the number of vinyl groups in-
creases with increasing amounts of octadiene comonomer.
To all polymer compositions A-F and Ref. 1 to Ref. 4, a peroxide di(tert-
butylperoxy-isopropyl)benzene) was added as a crosslinking agent. Fur-
thermore, to obtain a semiconductive material, carbon black was added.
The resultant semiconductive compositions are then extruded onto a cable,
either as an inner semiconductive layer directly applied onto the cable con-
ductor or as an outer semiconductive layer applied onto an insulation layer.
Subsequently, the cable is guided through a vulcanization tube where the
cable is heated to activate the peroxide and crosslink the polymer. Cables
are run at different line speeds (i.e. from 1.6 to 2.4 m/'min) which means
that the residence time in the vulcanization tube is shorter with increasing
A summary of the semiconductive polymer compositions A-F and Ref. 1 to
Ref. 4 is given in Table 2. Also provided are values for melt pressure
within the extruder, volume resistivity of the inner and outer semi-
conductive layer as a function of line speed, hot set, which is an indication
for the degree of crosslinking, and formation of scorch.
Table 2: Summary of semi-conductive compositions
Table 2 continued
The results of Table 2 clearly indicate that in compositions according to the
invention a sufficient electrical conductivity can be obtained with a reduced
amount of carbon black. Furthermore, a good balance between improved
electrical properties, high crosslinking efficiency and reduction of scorch
results from the composition according to the invention.
Comparing compositions A and B with Ref. 1, it is clearly indicated that
the increased number of vinyl groups enables to lower the amount of perox-
ide and reduce the formation of scorch. Although the amount of peroxide in
compositions A and B is significantly lower than in Ref. 1, the degree of
crosslinking at high line speed of 2.2 m/min (i.e. higher production rate) is
even increasing, as indicated by the hot set values. The higher a hot set
value, the lower the degree of crosslinking.
Furthermore, although the amount and type of carbon black is the same in
all samples, volume resistivity in compositions A and B is significantly im-
As explained above, the formation of scorch causes a number of problems
like adhesion of the polymer gel to the surface of the equipment. However,
the present invention enables to obtain a composition of sufficiently high
electrical conductivity with reduced amount of peroxide, thereby also re-
ducing the scorch. Thus, if the production rate is limited by the formation
of scorch and the burden of cleaning, the invention enables to have longer
cable runs until scorch occurs.
Comparing composition C and Ref. 1, these compositions only differ in the
amount of double bonds, indicated by the number of vinyl groups, whereas
the amount of carbon black and peroxide, respectively, remains unchanged.
Table 2 clearly indicates a decrease of volume resistivity, in particular at
higher line speed, and an increase of the crosslinking degree whereas there
is only a slight increase of scorch. There is still a good balance between
conductivity, crosslinking efficiency and scorch.
Thus, if crosslinking speed is the limiting factor for the rate of cable pro-
duction, the invention allows a faster production rate by using the same
amount of peroxide or even less peroxide. Simultaneously, the electrical
conductivity is even improved although the amount of carbon black re-
In composition D, the amount of carbon black is reduced if compared to
Ref. 1. Rheological properties of Composition D and Ref. 1 are summa-
rized in Table 3. As already discussed above, polymers having a high
amount of fillers show rapidly increasing viscosity with decreasing shear
rate and shear stress. Materials appear to become more "solid-like" as the
filler particles are allowed to create a strong network within the polymer
melt. This general trend is reflected in Table 3. However, for Ref. 1, the
effect is much more pronounced. In particular, at lower shear rate and shear
stress, compound D has a lower viscosity, thereby facilitating flow in criti-
cal regions of the processing equipment and avoiding stagnancy or block-
Table 3: Relationship between shear rate and viscosity
REF 1 Compound D
Shear rate (/s) Shear stress Shear viscosity
(kPa) (Pa.s) Shear stress Shear viscosity
20 203.51 10175 175.35 8768
50 282.67 5653 245.31 4906
100 361.49 3615 316.99 3170
198 457.26 2313 405.68 2051
400 574.18 1435 511.21 1280
600 647.56 1079 580.70 968
801 703.13 878 629.33 787
The results of Table 3 clearly indicate that the invention allows faster and
easier incorporation of carbon black during compounding and facilitates
extrusion with less risk of stagnant zones and lower melt pressure.
Furthermore, although the carbon black content of composition D has been
reduced to improve rheological properties, volume resistivity is not ad-
versely effected. On the contrary, at higher line speed (i.e. higher produc-
tion rate), volume resistivity of composition D is even improved.
The results for composition F indicate that the amount of carbon black can
be even further reduced but still enables to have the good balance between
rheological properties, electrical conductivity, crosslinking efficiency and
scorch behavior. Furthermore, considering the amount of vinyl groups of
composition F, the results of Table 2 demonstrate that an increase of vinyl
groups beyond the lower limit of the present invention is necessary to ob-
tain tne improved properties.
Examples 11 to 12
These examples show that the semiconductive compound of this invention
can be sufficiently crosslinked without adding peroxide directly to the
compound, but by a migration of peroxide from the insulation layer to the
semiconductive layer. This is of particular interest, because this would
mean that no peroxide needs to be present during extruding the semicon-
ductive layer of a cable.
The samples used are sandwich-type plaques (diameter about 8 cm) with
one insulation layer (about 4 mm thick) and one semiconductive layer
(about 1.3 mm thick). The insulation layer is formed of LDPE (MFR.2 -
2g/10 min) containing 2 wt% of dicumyl peroxide and 0.2 wt% of 4,4'-
thiobis(2-tert.-butyl-5-methylphenol), and the semiconductive layer is made
of the semiconductive material to be tested.
The sandwich plaques are produced by means of a heatable laboratory
press. Firstly, sheets of the insulation layer and the serniconductive layer
are pressed individually at 120°C for 10 minutes. Secondly, the sheet of the
insulation layer and the sheet of the serniconductive layer are brought to-
gether and pressed together at 120°C for about 20 minutes. Thirdly, the
temperature is increased to 180°C above the activation temperature of the
peroxide. The sandwich plaque remains pressed together at 180°C for about
30 minutes so that the crosslinking reaction is completed.
Specimen having been cut from the serniconductive layer. Hot set has been
measured according to IEC 811-2-1 using a load of lON/cm .
The serniconductive materials to be tested were: Composition A but with-
out peroxide added and composition REF1 but without peroxide added.
The average hot set value of three tests of specimen of Example A without
peroxide is 132%. However, when testing the example REF without perox-
ide none of the three tests allowed a percent hot set to be determined, be-
cause the specimen broke due to insufficient crosslinking. This shows that
the serniconductive material of the invention has improved crosslinking
properties that enable a sufficient crosslinking by the addition of peroxide
through migration from the insulating layer.
Examples 13 to 15
Wafer Boil Test
The wafer boil test is indicative whether the crosslinking degree of the
serniconductive layer is sufficient.
The wafer boil test has been performed according to AEIC CS5-94, 10th
edition, section G.2, on cross sections of the cables described above. Only
the cables made at highest line speed (2.4 m/min) have been investigated,
since these are most critical for the wafer boil test; i.e. least crosslinked.
As described in the standard above, the wafers have been boiled in decahy-
dronaphthalene for 5 hours. The wafers have been removed from the sol-
vent and examined. A pass/fail results has been given as described in sec-
tion D.5.1 of the above standard. Accordingly, if the inner semiconductive
layer dissolves or cracks such that it does not maintain a continuous ring,
the test result is "fail".
Compositions A, D and REF1 have been subjected to the wafer boil test.
However, only compositions A and D according to the present invention
passed the test, as indicated in Table 4.
Table 4: Results of wafer boil test
Composition A D REF 1
Rating passed passed failed
Conclusion from this test:
Although Examples A, D and REF1 appear to have a similar crosslinking
degree as measured by the hot set test, the semiconductive material of the
present invention is clearly superior in the wafer boil test, which also is a
measure of the cross-linking degree. This suggests surprisingly that not
only the crosslinking efficiency is enhanced by the increased number of
vinyl groups but that, furthermore, the crosslinked polymer morphology is
altered in a beneficial manner. This may lead also to the improved conduc-
tivity of Examples A and D, although they have the same hot set and the
same or less amount of carbon black compared to REF1.
1. A semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition comprising
(a) an unsaturated polyolefin having at least 0.15 vinyl
groups/1000 carbon atoms, and
(b) carbon black.
2. The polymer composition according to claim 1, wherein the unsatu-
rated polyolefin has at least 0.30 vinyl groups/1000 carbon atoms.
3. The polymer composition according to claim 1 or claim 2 having a
volume resistivity of less than 500000 Ohm * cm, measured at 90°C.
4. The polymer composition according to one of the preceding claims,
wherein the unsaturated polyolefin is prepared by polymerizing an
olefin monomer and at least one polyunsaturated comonomer.
5. The polymer composition according to claim 4, wherein at least one
polyunsaturated comonomer is a diene.
6. The polymer composition according to claim 5, wherein the diene is
selected from 1,7-octadiene, 1,9-decadiene, 1,13-tetradecadiene, 7-
methyl-l,6-octadiene, or mixtures thereof.
7. The polymer composition according to one of the claims 4 to 6,
wherein the olefin monomer is ethylene.
8. The polymer composition according to claim 7, wherein the unsatu-
rated polyethylene is produced by high pressure radical polymeriza-
9. The polymer composition according to one of the preceding claims,
containing 10-45 wt% carbon black, based on the weight of the semi-
conductive crosslinkable polymer composition.
10. The polymer composition according to one of the preceding claims,
further comprising at least one crosslinking agent.
11. The polymer composition according to claim 10, wherein the
crosslinking agent is a peroxide which is present in an amount of less
than 1.0 wt%, based on the weight of the semiconductive crosslink-
able polymer composition.
12. A semiconductive crosslinked polymer composition, obtainable by
treatment of the semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition
according to one of the claims 1 to 11 under crosslinking conditions.
13. The polymer composition according to claim 12, having a volume
resistivity of less than 500000 Ohm * cm, measured at 90°C.
14. The polymer composition according to claim 12 or 13, having a hot
set value, measured according to IEC 811-2-1, of less than 300%.
15. A process for preparing a multi-layered article, comprising the steps
(a) providing the semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composi-
tion according to one of the claims 1 to 9, and
(b) applying the semiconductive, cosslinkable polymer composi-
tion onto a substrate by extrusion.
16. The process according to claim 15, wherein a crosslinking agent is
added to the semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition.
17. The process according to claim 16, wherein the crosslinking agent is
added during and/or after application of the semiconductive
crosslinkabie polymer composition onto the substrate, and the addi-
tion is effected by migration from an external reservoir containing
the crosslinking agent.
18. The process according to claim 17, wherein the external reservoir is
another layer also applied onto the substrate and containing the
19. The process according to claim 17 or 18, wherein extrusion of the
semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition is effected with-
out the presence of a crosslinking agent.
20. The process according to one of the claims 16 to 19, wherein the
semiconductive crosslinkable polymer composition is treated under
21. The process according to claim 20, wherein the semiconductive
crosslinked polymer composition has a hot set value, measured ac-
cording to IEC 811-2-1, of less than 300%.
22. The process according to one of the claims 15 to 21, wherein the
multilayered article is a power cable.
23. A crosslinkable multi-layered article, wherein at least one layer
thereof comprises the crosslinkable semiconductive polymer compo-
sition according to one of the claims 1 to 11.
24. A crosslinked multi-layered article, obtainable from the crosslinkable
multi-layered article according to claim 23 by treatment under
25. The article according to claim 24, which is a power cable.
26. The article according to claim 24 or 25, wherein the crosslinked
semiconductive polymer composition within at least one layer satis-
fies the following relationship:
VR • CB • HS/1000000 wherein
VR: volume resistivity in Ohm • cm, measured at 90°C
CB: weight percentage carbon black, based on the total
weight of the crosslinked semiconductive polymer composition
within the layer;
HS: hot set value in % measured according to IEC 811-2-1.
27. The article according to claim 25 or 26, wherein the power cable has
an inner semiconductive layer which is obtained from the crosslink-
able semiconductive polymer composition according to one of the
claims 1 to 11 by treatment under crosslinking conditions.
The present invention relates to a crosslinkable polymer composition which
is useful for the preparation of semiconductive layers of electric cables, the
polymer composition comprising (a) an unsaturated polyolefin having at
least 0.15 vinyl groups/1000 carbon atoms and (b) carbon black.
|Indian Patent Application Number
|PG Journal Number
|Date of Filing
|Name of Patentee
|BOREALIS TECHNOLOGY OY
|P.O. BOX 330, FIN-06101, PORVOO
|PCT International Classification Number
|C08K 3/04, H01B 1/24
|PCT International Application Number
|PCT International Filing date