Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Polymers and High Performance Materials

Committee Chair

James W. Rawlins

Committee Chair Department

Polymers and High Performance Materials

Committee Member 2

William L. Jarrett

Committee Member 2 Department

Polymers and High Performance Materials

Committee Member 3

Sarah E. Morgan

Committee Member 3 Department

Polymers and High Performance Materials

Committee Member 4

Derek L. Patton

Committee Member 4 Department

Polymers and High Performance Materials

Committee Member 5

Gopinath Subramanian

Committee Member 5 Department

Polymers and High Performance Materials


Industrial coating formulations are often made for volatile organic content compliance and ease of application, with little regard for the solvent impact on resultant performance characteristics. Our research objective was to understand the effect of both solvent retention and chemical structure on water transport through polymer films and resultant corrosion area growth of coated steel substrates. A clear, unpigmented Phenoxy™ thermoplastic polymer (PKHH) was formulated into resin solutions with three separate solvent blends selected by Hansen solubility parameter (HSP), boiling point, and ability to solubilize PKHH. Polymer films cast from MEK/PGME (methyl ethyl ketone/ propylene glycol methyl ether), dried under ambient conditions (AMB, > 6wt.% residual solvent) produced a porous morphology, which resulted in a corrosion area greater than 50%. We attributed this to the water-soluble solvent used in film preparation, which enabled residual PGME to be extracted by water. The resin solution prepared with CYCOH/DXL (Cyclohexanol/ 1,3 dioxolane) was selected because CYCOH is a solid at room temperature which acts as a pigment in the final film. Therefore, increasing the tortuosity of water transport, as well as a high hydrogen bonding character, which caused more interactions with water, slowing diffusion, producing a nodular morphology, and 37% less corrosion area than MEK/PGME AMB. The HSP of PKHH and EEP (ethyl 3-ethoxypropionate) are within 5% of each other, which produced a homogeneous morphology and resulted in comparable corrosion rates regardless of residual solvent content.

We utilized electrochemical techniques and attenuated total reflectance- Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to elucidate dynamic water absorption and solvent extraction in the exposed model formulations. We found that water absorption resulted in a loss of barrier properties, and increased corrosion due to the voids formed by solvent extraction. The polymer films were rejuvenated (removal of water) as an attempt to decrease the number of water transport pathways during exposure. Results found that samples rejuvenated at temperatures above the glass transition temperature of the samples achieved lower moisture content and consequently, lower corrosion growth rates. In commercial systems, rejuvenation lowered the corrosion rate up to 60% indicating better coating formulations and maintenance cycles would control the corrosion rate.