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Thermal Properties Testing by TGA and DSC

We measure the thermal properties of solid and liquid materials using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Plastics, rubber, lubricants and chemical feedstocks all contain a thermal blueprint that can be determined by heating and cooling the substances under different conditions. Thermal properties include specific heat capacity, melting point, crystallization temperature, glass transition temperature, heat of vaporization, heat of reaction, oxidation induction time, and characteristic mass loss across varying temperatures.

Differential scanning calorimetry measures the amount of heat necessary to bring about a phase transition (e.g. liquid to gas or solid to liquid) in a sample as compared to a reference. By observing the difference in heat flow between the sample and the reference, it’s possible to measure the amount of heat absorbed or released during phase transitions. DSC can also be used to observe and measure more subtle physical changes. This type of analysis is widely used in quality control to evaluate sample purity, evaluate oxidation resistance and to study polymer curing.

Thermogravimetric analysis measures changes in the physical and chemical properties of materials as a function of increasing temperature (with a constant heating rate) or as a function of time (with constant temperature and/or constant mass loss). TGA is often used to characterize materials by their decomposition patterns and determine the organic or inorganic content in a sample. For example, we can use TGA in CRTA mode to identify composition of LDPE, MDPE and HDPE in polyethylene samples.  TGA is especially useful for studying polymeric materials such as elastomers, thermoplastics, thermosets, composites, plastic films, fibers, coatings, and paints.

Specific heat capacity is one of the most important thermal properties we measure. Specific heat capacity is the amount of thermal energy required to raise the temperature of a unit mass of a material by one degree Celsius. When a material has a high specific heat capacity, the material takes more time to be heated, does not lose heat easily, and can act as a heat insulator. On the other hand, when a material has a low specific heat capacity, it heats very quickly, loses heat easily, and can act as a temperature conductor. Measuring a material’s specific heat capacity is essential for any application where materials will be exposed to high temperatures.

We can perform thermal properties testing by the following methods. To learn more about one of these tests, click on the test name below, or contact us for more information about our testing capabilities.