Comparison of microstructural and physical properties of two petroleum waxes
Journal article, 2008
Microstructural and physical properties of two petroleum waxes, petrolatum and microcrystalline wax, were characterized in this work. Petroleum waxes are known to be hydrophobic and can be used in applications where a good moisture barrier is needed. In order to achieve a better understanding of different inherent properties of a wax, the two waxes in this work were characterized with infrared spectroscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, rheology and X-ray diffraction. It was concluded from the results of infrared spectroscopy that the two waxes consisted only of saturated alkanes. Confocal laser scanning microscopy showed that the petrolatum sample had a more open microstructure with coarse crystals separated from each other than the microcrystalline wax, which appeared to have a more network-like crystalline structure consisting of somewhat finer crystals. Both waxes crystallized over a broad temperature range. Their crystallization characteristics were quite different, however, probably owing to a different oil content. According to modulated differential scanning calorimetry and rheological measurements the microcrystalline wax crystallized through a two-step process, whereas the petrolatum crystallized through only one step.