Materials Sciences and Applicatio n, 2011, 2, 818-826
doi:10.4236/msa.2011.27111 Published Online July 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Effect of Ethylene Carbonate (EC) Plasticizer on
Poly (Vinyl Chloride)-Liquid 50% Epoxidised
Natural Rubber (LENR50) Based Polymer
M. Y. A. Rahman1* , A. Ahmad2,3*, T. K. Lee2,3, Y. Farina3, H. M. Dahlan4
1College of Engineering, University Tenaga Nasional, Kajang, Malaysia; 2
Polymer Research Center, Faculty of Science and
Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Malaysia; 3School of Chemical Sciences and Food Technology, Faculty of
Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Malaysia; 4Radiation Processing Technology Division, Malaysian
Nuclear Agency (MINT) Bangi, Kajang, Malaysia.
Received April 14th, 2011; revised May 25th, 2011; accepted June 6th, 2011.
In this research, new thin film of a free standing electrolyte film containing poly(vinyl) chloride (PVC), 50% liquid
epoxidized natural rubber (LENR50), Ethylene carbonate (EC) blends as a host for the electrolyte which was doped
with lithium perchlorate (LiClO4) as the dopant salt was successfully prepared with solution casting technique. The
polymer electrolyte of PVC-LENR50-EC-LiClO4 was characterized using impedance spectroscopy (EIS), scanning
electron microscopy (SEM) and Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR). From the EIS results shows that electrolyte
exhibited the highest ionic conductivity of 2.1 × 10–7 Scm–1 at the 30 wt.% of LiClO4. The ionic conductivity result was
supported by the morphological studies which revealed the good homogeneity of the PVC-LENR50-EC blends as no
phase separation was observed. The smooth surface can ease the mobility of ions in the system complexes. In addition,
the formation of micro-pores by introducing lithium salts to the electrolyte also improved the transportation properties
of Li+ ions in the electrolyte system and hence improving its ionic conductivity. The features of complexation of the
electrolytes were studied by ATR-FTIR.
Keywords: PVC, LENR50, LiClO4, Ionic Conductivity, Polymers Electrolyte, EC
1. Introduction
Ionic conducting polymer was first suggested by Fenton
and Wright in 1973. Since the pioneering work by
Wright on ions conductivity in the poly (ethylene
oxide)/alkali metal salt complexes, the studies on solid
polymer electrolytes (SPEs) have attracted and receiving
a great deal of attention due to its proposed large scale
use in high energy density secondary lithium ion
batteries, sensors, solar cell, fuel cell as well as electro-
chromic smart windows [1-4]. In the beginning of 21st
century, high demands for new renewable energy,
storage system and fast emerging of sophisticated
microelectronic portable applications, solid state lithium
ion batteries have become most preferred power source
because of their advantages such as high energy density,
long life cycle and absence of a “memory” effect problem.
SPEs possessed many advantage over conventional liquid
electrolytes in terms of shape, geometry, mechanical
strength and good electrode-electrolyte contact [4,5].
However, one of the biggest drawbacks in development of
SPE is having low conductivity at ambient temperature [4,
6]. Numerous efforts and approaches have been
employed such as addition of nano-size ceramic filler/
additives, plasticizer (EC and PC), radiation, binary
blending of polymers and etc [7-12].
Up to date, one of the most famous polymer used in
SPE as polymer host is poly (vinyl chloride). PVC is well
known for its excellent miscibility and compatibility
properties with various low or high molecular weight
polymers as well as providing good mechanical strength.
This is due to its lone pair of electron from the chlorine
Effect of Ethylene Carbonate (EC) Plasticizer on Poly (Vinyl Chloride)-Liquid 50% Epoxidised Natural Rubber 819
(LENR50) Based Polymer Electrolyte
atom which can act to stiffen the backbone of the
polymer. Besides, the inexpensive PVC can well solvated
with the inorganic salts [8,12-16].
Modified natural rubber such as ENR 50 and MG49
has received great attentions from many researches for its
distinctive properties of having low glass transition
temperature and good elasticity and adhesion properties
[5,7,11]. In addition, these modified rubbers can provide
coordination sites for Li+ ions conduction and produce a
great number of charge carriers for ionic transport
because both have a lone pair of electrons from the
oxygen atom. In this work, we have further the modifica-
tion works for ENR50 by using photochemical method to
produce the low molecular weight of liquid epoxidised
natural rubber, LENR50. By having lower molecular
weight, we expected it would give better property than
ENR50 in term of greater penetration onto PVC
interstices enabling better solubilisation of the PVC
segments in the polymer blend of PVC-LENR50—salt
system [9-10,17]. In the present work, we successfully
prepared a solid polymer electrolyte consisting of
modified low molecular weight rubber LENR50 based
PVC-LiClO4 system with enhancement of ethylene
carbonate, EC.
2. Experimental
PVC (Aldrich) with average molecular weight of 97,000
and ENR50 (Guthrie (M) Bhd.) were used in this work.
Lithium perchlorate (LiClO4, purity >95%) and Ethylene
carbonate (EC) were obtained from Aldrich. Tetrahy-
drofuran (THF) was purchased from JT Barker whereas
toluene was from R&M Chemical England.
2.2. Sample Preparation of LENR50
Before the rubber solution of 5 wt.% was prepared, 250 g
of 50% epoxidized natural rubber (ENR50) was cut into
smaller size and put into 5 L of straight sided cylindrical
flask which contained 4750 g of toluene solvent. The
cylindrical flask was fitted together with an immersion
well, a stirring assembly and a condenser as shown in
Figure 1. The ENR50 was stirred until it is completely
dissolved. The ENR50 solution was then radiated for 50
hours with a medium pressure mercury lamp of 400 watt
which was contained in the double-walled immersion well
made from quartz allowing water cooling by a chiller.
The temperature was fixed at 20˚C throughout the process.
The depolymerised ENR50 was recovered first and
concentrating the rubber solution using a rotary evapo-
rator at 60˚C until 60% of dried rubber contained (DRC)
in the solution was achieved.
Figure 1. UV irradiation system.
The Mw of LENR50 before irradiation was 639,661
Da and after irradiation for 50 hours was 76,473 Da [9,10,
Figure 2 show the degradation of ENR50 upon ir-
radiation of UV light while Figure 3 shows the proposed
structure and mechanism routes for irradiation of LENR50.
In the process of degradation ENR50, the chain scission
take place at C-C bond which bind the two isoprene units
together. This was because of the resonance energy which
results in it being the weakest bond with energy of only
181 kJ/mol. Besides, it’s reported by Dahlan and Abdul
Ghani that the liquid form of ENR50 prepared by this
technique did not show any significant changes in the
absorption peaks of isoprene unit except for the prominent
enhanced for—OOH and carbonyl groups in the IR. It’s
suggested that the formation of carbonyl groups occurred
as a result of the ring opening of the epoxy group to
produce hydroxylated group [9,10, 17].
2.3. Sample Preparation of SPE
0.9 g of PVC was dissolved into 60 ml of THF and
Figure 2. Degradation of ENR50 upon irradiation of UV
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Effect of Ethylene Carbonate (EC) Plasticizer on Poly (Vinyl Chloride)-Liquid 50% Epoxidised Natural Rubber
(LENR50) Based Polymer Electrolyte
Figure 3. Structure and mechanism routes for irradiation of LENR50.
stirred using a magnetic stirrer until all PVC was
dissolved completely. 3.5 g of LENR50 which contains
2.1 g of DRC was poured into the solution and stirred for
24 hours to form a homogenous solution. The 5 wt.%
LiClO4 were then dissolved in EC aand THF before
added into the mixtures solution and continued to stirred
for another 24 hours before being cast onto a finely
cleaned petri dish before allowing it to evaporate slowly
in a fume hood at room temperature for a day. After
appropriate amounts of THF solvent dried off, the sample
was further dried in a vacuum oven at 50˚C and 0.2 atm
for 24 hours. The dried film was obtained after THF
solvent has completely evaporated. The film was then
peeled off form the dish. These steps were repeated for
preparing PVC-LENR50 (30/70)-EC(70)-LiClO4 with 10,
15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 wt.% of LiClO4. This process
will produce a mechanically stable and a free standing
electrolytes film.
2.4. Sample Characterization
The ionic conductivity measurement was performed by
alternate current (AC) impedance spectroscopy using
high frequency response analyzer (HFRA Solartron 1256,
Schlumberger) in the frequency range of 0.1 Hz to 1
MHz. The electrolyte films were sandwiched between
two stainless steel electrodes with a surface contact area
of 2.0 cm2 and mounted onto the holder. From the
Cole-cole plots obtained, the bulks resistance, Rb () of
the samples was determined with Z-View software. The
conductivity was calculated based on the equation σ = l /
RbA, where l is the film thickness (cm) and A (cm2) is the
effective contact area of electrolyte and the electrode.
The morphological studies on the fractured surfaces of
polymer electrolyte samples were done using SEM with
2000× magnification at 25 kV electron beam. ATR-FTIR
analysis was performed on polymer-based and lithium
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Effect of Ethylene Carbonate (EC) Plasticizer on Poly (Vinyl Chloride)-Liquid 50% Epoxidised Natural Rubber 821
(LENR50) Based Polymer Electrolyte
salt using the Perking Elmer Spectrum 2000 in the range
of 4000 cm–1 to 500 cm–1 with its scanning solution of 4
3. Result and Discussion
3.1. Ionic Conductivity
Figure 4 shows the variation of conductivity as a
function of weight percentage of EC in PVC-LENR50
polymer blends. There is a significant conductivity
enhancement after the addition of plasticizer to the
electrolytes system. The lowest ionic conductivity
obtained was 2.0 × 10–11 Scm–1 at 0 wt.% of EC content
while the highest ionic conductivity was observed at 70
wt.% of EC loading with conductivity value of 6.4 × 10–9
Scm–1. The conductivity of the blends has been improved
by 326 times with introduction of 70 wt.% of EC. This
step was carried out to optimize the coordination sites of
the polymer host by increased the number of oxygen atom
for lithium salt to interact. The increased in conductivity
of the polymer blends system is due to the decreased of
bulk resistance in the system.
Figure 5 shows the relationship between the ionic
conductivity at the different concentrations of LiClO4 salt
at room temperature. It was observed that the ionic
conductivity of PVC-LENR50 (30/70)-EC(70)-LiClO4
salt increases from 0 wt.% LiClO4 to 30 wt.% before
started to drop until 40 wt.%. From Figure 5, the lowest
ionic conductivity was 6.4 × 10–9 Scm–1 obtained at 0 wt.
% LiClO4 and the highest value of 2.1 × 10–7 Scm–1 was
obtained at 30 wt.% LiClO4. In Figure 6 shows the bulk
resistance which is described by an arc was interpreted
from the simulation (semicircle) line performed on the
impedance spectra which the slanted spike is represents
the high frequency semi circular region, attributed to the
electrolytes resistance [20]. The semicircle and a spike
observed in the impedance plots indicated the occurrence
of ion diffusion. The increase in the ionic conductivity
after introduction of LiClO4 salt into the electrolytes
system was due to the fact of increasing charge carriers
in the system increase. This can be shown by the
equation: σ = ce(u+ + u) = c Λ where σ is conductivity of
electrolytes, Λ is molar conductivity, c is salt
concentration, e is charge on an electron, and u+ and u
represent the ion mobilities. As number of charges
increases, the ionic conductivity also increases [18,19].
From previous researches, it’s reported that plasticizer
such as EC exhibit high dielectric constant which can
increases the number of mobile ions by weakening the
columbic force between the anions and cations of the salt
[3]. Besides, plasticizer created and promotes more free
volume in the electrolyte system and decreased the
viscosity of the electrolyte making the mobility of ions
became easier. Another factor contribute to the rise in
ionic conductivity of the SPE is the large volume of
- which may elongate the pitch of PVC spiral
structure and thus provide a bigger transfer space for Li+
ions [4]. However, after the optimum value of concentra-
tion LiClO4 salt introduced, the ionic conductivity
decreased. This implied that ions association was likely
occurred in the electrolytes system. Ions association
Figure 4. Variation of conductivity as a func tion of we ight perc entage of EC in PVC-LENR50 polymer blends.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Effect of Ethylene Carbonate (EC) Plasticizer on Poly (Vinyl Chloride)-Liquid 50% Epoxidised Natural Rubber
(LENR50) Based Polymer Electrolyte
Figure 5. Ionic conductivity of PVC-LENR50 (70/30)-EC(70) doped with LiClO4 salt.
Figure 6. Typical Cole-cole plot for PVC-LENR50 (30/70)-EC(70)-LiClO4.
causes the number of free ions to decrease which leads to
the lower ionic conductivity values. This can be explained
which at extreme low salts concentrations the salts exist
in the form of isolated Li+ and ClO4
ions. As the
concentration increases, mutual interactions between ions
are sufficiently strong to promote the formation of ion
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Effect of Ethylene Carbonate (EC) Plasticizer on Poly (Vinyl Chloride)-Liquid 50% Epoxidised Natural Rubber 823
(LENR50) Based Polymer Electrolyte
pairs, which are in equilibrium with the free ions: Li+ +
֖ [LiClO4]0. Since the ions pairs carry no charge,
the conductivity per unit salt concentration will drop as
observed in Figure 5. The formation of the PVC
-LENR50-EC-LiClO4 complex is described in for which:
LiClO4 + LENR50 + EC Li+ (LENR50)x (EC)y]ClO4
Li+[(LENR50)x (EC)y]ClO4
+ (CH2CH C l )n
Li+[(LENR50)x (EC)y]ClO4
3.2. Morphological Studies
The SEM micrographs shown in Figure 7 were the
surface morphology of the electrolytes systems which
were characterized at the cross-sectional area. As we can
see, the surface of pure PVC was rough and cracked
Figure 7. SEM micrograph of (a) SPE 0 wt.% salt, (b) SPE 10 wt.% salt, (c) SPE 30 wt.% salt, (d) SPE 40 wt.% salt, (e) pure
PVC (f) pure LENR50.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Effect of Ethylene Carbonate (EC) Plasticizer on Poly (Vinyl Chloride)-Liquid 50% Epoxidised Natural Rubber
(LENR50) Based Polymer Electrolyte
whereas the surface morphology for LENR50 is smooth
and clean. However, when PVC was blended with EC
and LENR50, the brittleness and cracked surface was
improved as shown in Figure 7(a). It’s observed that
from Figures 7(a)-(d) indicated that LENR50 forms
miscible blends with PVC and enhances the tear strength
of the PVC, resulting better physical properties. In facts,
LENR50 has better miscibility than ENR50 because
LENR50 has larger inter-phasing area and higher
interaction with PVC owning to its smaller molecular
size [9,16]. According to the previous reports [3,22], ions
can move more freely in the electrolytes with smoother
The fractured structural view of the samples in
Figures 7(b) to (d) shows the formation of micro-pores
that occurs from the complex process of interaction
between solvent, plasticizer, lithium salt and the
polymers during evaporation. According to Watchanida
Chinpa, the high porosity might result from the repulsive
forces between the carboxylic acid groups with the
polymers host which the carboxylic acid form from the
OOH group [25]. Furthermore, it is also kinetically
controlled by the relative rate of evaporation of the
compounds. Nevertheless, the formation of the fine-pores
in the polymer-salt matrix will improve the mobility of
ions by providing and creating more path ways for ions
transportation [23,24]. However, the analysis of im-
pedance shows that after the addition of 30 wt.% of salt,
the value of ionic conductivity dropped because the
number of charge carriers decreased. The presences of
higher lithium salt concentration can cause phase
separation and agglomeration that hinder migration of
Li+ ions in the polymer, resulting in lower ionic
conductivity. This was proved in Figure 7 (d) as the
surface of the cross-sectional show brighter spots than
Figures 7(b)-(c). The bright spots were caused by the
addition of lithium salt [14]. Besides, the agglomeration
was clearly observed in Figure 7(d) too [3].
3.3. ATR-FTIR Studies
ATR-FTIR is a very useful tool to study the local
structural changes as well as occurrence of the
complexation and interaction between various cons-
tituents. The FTIR spectra of polymer electrolytes
complexes are shown in Figure 8. The peaks observed at
3450 cm–1 to 3600 cm–1 shows OH and –OOH groups.
This was caused by hygroscopic nature of lithium salt
and THF solvent that absorbed moisture from the air. In
addition, the –OOH group was resulted from the
irradiation process of LENR50 which oxygen interact
with unsaturated double bonds of the isoprene units to
form hydroperoxide. While the 771 cm–1 peak referred to
Figure 8. FTIR spectra for OH and OOH groups of
PVC-LENR50-EC-LiClO4 (0 wt.%, 10 wt.%, 20 wt.%, 30
wt.% and 40 wt.%.
EC ring-stretching mode[27].
The peaks 2963 cm–1, 2923 cm–1, and 2860 cm–1
shown in Figure 9 were belong to saturated aliphatic
stretching C-H of isoprene. There were significant
changes as the intensity of the peaks became less sharp
when the concentration of lithium salt increased. From
Figure 10, the absorption peaks at 1449 cm cm–1 and
1329 cm–1 are corresponding to CH2 scissoring of
isoprene and CH2 wagging of PVC respectively [2]. It
was clearly seen that the peak at 1329 cm–1 and
disappeared upon adding of lithium salt. The peaks at
1449 cm–1 was shifted to 1481 cm–1 and the intensity
decreased, while peak at 1380 cm–1 shifted to 1403 cm–1.
The peak absorption of C-O-C group was found at
1251 cm–1 and 873 cm–1 were from the epoxy group of
the isoprene units. Peak at 1251 cm–1 gradually
Figure 9. FTIR spectra for aliphatic stretching CH of
PVC-LENR50-EC-LiClO4 (0 wt.%, 10 wt.%, 20 wt.%, 30
wt.% and 40 wt.%).
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Effect of Ethylene Carbonate (EC) Plasticizer on Poly (Vinyl Chloride)-Liquid 50% Epoxidised Natural Rubber 825
(LENR50) Based Polymer Electrolyte
Figure 10. FTIR spectra for CH2 of PVC-LENR50-EC-
LiClO4 (0 wt.%, 10 wt.%, 20 wt.%, 30 wt.% and 40 wt.%).
disappeared and peak at 873 cm–1 shifted to 901 cm–1
when the lithium salt added [5]. This shows that the
complexation between Li+ ions and ether group occurred.
Moreover, the vibrational peak observed at 711 cm–1 and
shifted to 721 cm–1 was attributed to Li+ ions.
The peaks at 1804 cm–1 and 1774 cm–1 peaks observed
for the complexes of lithium with C = O of LiCO which
was shown in Figure 11 [26]. The intensity of C = O
peak decreased and shifting was observed too as salt was
introduced. The peak shifted slightly from 1804 cm–1 to
1802 cm–1 while peak at 1774 cm–1 shifted to 1768 cm–1.
The shifting and changes in intensity peaks as well as
shape of the peaks shows that complexation between the
lithium salts and the oxygen atoms in the polymer host
Figure 11. FTIR spectra for C = O of PVC-LENR50-EC-
LiClO4 (0 wt.%, 10 wt.%, 20 wt.%, 30 wt.% and 40 wt.%).
4. Conclusions
Solid polymeric electrolyte of PVC-LENR50 (30/70)-
EC (70) with function of LiClO4 salt concentration was
successfully prepared by solution casting technique. The
highest ionic conductivity obtained is 2.1 × 10–7 S cm–1 at
30 wt.% of LiClO4 salt. The above results also show that
the conductivity of the polymer blends of PVC-LENR50
with addition of EC can lower the resistance bulk of the
system as the flexibility of the polymer host increased.
The SEM studies showed that PVC, LENR50 and EC
were well miscible as suggested by other researchers. It
also reveals that the SPEs with lithium salts produce
almost consistent sizes and well-distributed micro-pores.
The micro-pores aid in mobility of the ions in the system
complexes. Results of the ATR-FTIR proved that
complexation occurred between Li+ ions and C-O-C as
well as C = O groups.
5. Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank UKM and Malaysian
Nuclear Agency Malaysia (MINT) for providing the
needs and helps in this research.
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(LENR50) Based Polymer Electrolyte
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