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Alkaline

NaOH
Concentration,
wt%

Calculated pH

0.0004

10.0

0.0013

10.5

0.0040

11.0

0.0126

11.5

0.0400

12.0

0.1265

12.5

1.0000

13.4

Ordinary polyesters are not resistive to basic or alkaline


environments since the ester linkages of polyester are subject
to hydrolysis. Once the resin is attacked, deterioration can be
rapid, since strong bases can digest glass. Alkaline
deterioration is very distinct and is characterized by a fiber
bloom and a very cheesy appearance.
Isophthalic and terephthalic resins should not be used
continuously in environments where the pH exceeds about
10.5, which corresponds to a very low concentration in the
case of a strong base such as caustic. On the other hand,
polyesters based on alkoxylated adducts of bisphenol-A, e.g.,
DION 382 or DION 6694, feature chemistry where the
ester linkage is sterically hindered from hydrolysis. These
resins have excellent alkaline resistance, with very good case
histories.

Vinyl esters based on bisphenol-A epoxy also have quite


good alkaline resistance, for example DION 9100, 9200, or
2.0000
13.7
9102. Care should be taken with vinyl esters based on
novolac epoxy. The alkaline resistance of novolac resins is
3.0000
13.9
fair, but with strong bases at high temperature phenolate salts
can form which lead to laminate destruction. This
deterioration of a novolac vinyl ester in caustic is often preceded by development of a pinkish color.
Many fabricators will employ a synthetic veil for alkaline environments, which makes sense in view of
potential attack to glass. However, C-veil has also been used successfully, provided accepted practices
are used for the corrosion barrier. Likewise, it is advisable to not use silica based thixotropic agents.
Sodium Hydroxide
Sodium Hydroxide is a very strong base, which completely dissociates at dilute concentrations. Very
low levels can give a high pH.
Beyond about 2% concentration, there is an equilibrium which exists between dissolved NaOH and a
hydrated solid phase, but at higher concentrations the pH is very close to 14 for all practical purposes.
Actually, very concentrated caustic solutions of caustic, e.g. 50%, are somewhat less aggressive to FRP
than dilute concentrations (refer to corrosion resistance tables) due to the presence of solid phase
caustic which seems to protect the FRP surface. In dealing with concentrations beyond 50% FRP is not
recommended. Many steels and passive alloys can become embrittled by caustic at high concentrations
and temperatures, and nickel is commonly used for caustic concentrates.
Care should always be given to impurities, especially if dealing with chloro-alkali intermediates, which
may contain traces of chlorates or hypochlorite.
Caustic is often sold in the form of solid pellets or flakes, as well as in the form of 50% and 73%
solutions. Very often these solutions are diluted before use in the process. The heat of solution for

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