Standard Historical Last Updated: May 25, 2022 Track Document
ASTM D2857-16

Standard Practice for Dilute Solution Viscosity of Polymers

Standard Practice for Dilute Solution Viscosity of Polymers D2857-16 ASTM|D2857-16|en-US Standard Practice for Dilute Solution Viscosity of Polymers Standard new BOS Vol. 08.01 Committee D20
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Significance and Use

5.1 The determination of dilute solution viscosity provides one item of information towards the molecular characterization of polymers. When viscosity data are used in conjunction with other molecular parameters, the properties of polymers depending on their molecular structure may be predicted.

5.2 Viscosity is dependent on molecular weight distribution, so with certain restrictions, satisfactory correlations can be obtained between dilute-solution viscosity and molecular parameters such as molecular weight or chain length. The most limiting restrictions that must be observed are as follows:

5.2.1 It must be known that the polymers used to establish the correlations and those to which they are applied do not consist of or contain branched species. Basically a measure of molecular size and not molecular weight, the dilute solution viscosity can be correlated appropriately with molecular weight or chain length only if there is a unique relationship between the mass and the size of the dissolved polymer molecules. This is the case for linear, but not for most branched, polymers.

5.2.2 For reasons similar to those outlined in 5.2.1, it must be required that the polymers to which the correlations are applied have the same chemical composition as those used in establishing the relationships.

5.3 For polymers meeting the restrictions of 5.2, empirical relationships can be developed between the dilute solution viscosity of a polymer and its hydrodynamic volume or average chain dimension (radius of gyration or end-to-end distance). Such relationships depend upon any variables influencing this molecular size of the dissolved polymer. The most important of these variables are solvent type and temperature. Thus, the solution viscosity of a given polymer specimen depends on the choice of these variables, and they must always be specified with the viscosity for complete identification.

5.4 The solution viscosity of a polymer of sufficiently high molecular weight may depend on rate of shear in the viscometer, and the viscosity of a polyelectrolyte (polymer containing ionizable chemical groupings) will depend on the composition and ionic strength of the solvent. Special precautions beyond the scope of this practice are required when measuring such polymers.

5.5 Finally, the viscosity of polymer solutions may be affected drastically by the presence of recognized or unrecognized additives in the sample, including but not limited to colorants, fillers, or low-molecular-weight species.


1.1 This practice covers the determination of the dilute solution viscosity of polymers. There are several ASTM standards (Test Methods D789, D1243, D1601, and D4603, and Practice D3591) that describe dilute solution viscosity procedures for specific polymers, such as nylon, poly(vinyl chloride), polyethylene, and poly(ethylene terephthalate). This practice is written to augment these standards when problems arise with which the specific procedure is not concerned, or when no standard is available for the polymer under investigation.

1.2 This practice is applicable to all polymers that dissolve completely without chemical reaction or degradation to form solutions that are stable with time at a temperature between ambient and 150°C. Results are usually expressed as relative viscosity (viscosity ratio), inherent viscosity (logarithmic viscosity number), or intrinsic viscosity (limiting viscosity number) (see 3.1).

1.3 For polyamides, relative viscosity values by this procedure are not equivalent to those determined by Test Methods D789.

1.4 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

Note 1: This standard and ISO 1628, “Plastics—Determination of Viscosity Number and Limiting Viscosity Number,” are technically equivalent.

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Book of Standards Volume: 08.01
Developed by Subcommittee: D20.70
Pages: 6
DOI: 10.1520/D2857-16
ICS Code: 83.080.01