Rohindra, D. R., Lata, R. A., & Coll, R. K. (2012). A simple experiment to determine the activation energy of the viscous flow of polymer solutions using a glass capillary viscometer. European Journal of Physics, 33(5), 1457-1464.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/6679
A simple viscometry experiment undertaken by an undergraduate polymer class as a research project is described. Viscosity is a measure of a fluid's resistance to flow and is affected by several factors, such as concentration and temperature. In this experiment, the viscosities of polyvinylpyrrolidone solutions (a polymeric material) of different concentrations were prepared in water and measured at various temperatures. The solution viscosity was found to increase gradually with increasing concentration up to similar to 5 mass%, with a dramatic increase after this. The calculated viscosity of water at different temperatures was comparable to reported values. The activation energy of viscous flow (E-a) of the different solutions was calculated and followed a similar trend as that for the viscosities of solutions of various concentrations. This experiment allowed students to better understand and explain the behaviour of macromolecules with respect to changing concentration and temperature. Furthermore, students correlated the viscosity and E-a results to understand how an increase in the concentration of a polymer solution resulted in increased entanglement of the polymer chains, consequently leading to an increase in viscosity and an increase in the activation energy of viscous flow. This experiment is safe, low cost, simple and requires only readily available apparatus.
Institute of Physics