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High Irradiance

UV/Condensation Testers
TECHNICAL BULLETIN  LU-8031

Allow Faster Accelerated


Weathering Test Results
Introduction & Background
Weatherability is a necessary quality for coat- Figure 1
ings used outdoors. Because outdoor expo-
sures are so time consuming, accelerated
laboratory testing is used extensively by
Controller

industry. One of the more popular laboratory


weathering testers is the ASTM G53 UV/Con-
densation device, also known as the QUV.1
In the QUV, test specimens are repetitively

Ballast 1

Ballast 

Ballast 4

Ballast 3
exposed to alternating cycles of UV light and
condensing moisture at controlled tempera-
tures. Previously, exposure conditions could be
varied only by the selection of the fluorescent
UV lamp, the timing of the UV and condensation
exposures and the temper­atures of the expo-
sures. This paper examines an enhancement
to the QUV weathering tester for precise control
1 3 Detector

of light output and higher irradiance. Data is


presented on the accelerating effect of higher
irradiance on several common polymers.  4

Sample Sample
Irradiance Control System Plane Lamps Plane
(all same age)
The irradiance control system, marketed under
the name “Solar Eye,” consists of a program-
mable controller that continuously monitors the
UV intensity via four sensors mounted in the by the operator on a regular basis. The cali-
test sample plane. A four channel feedback loop bration is traceable to the National Institute of
system maintains the programmed irradiance Standards and Technology (NIST) for ISO 9000
level by adjusting power to UV lamps. The irra- compliance.
diance level can be adjusted to varying inten- Data presented previously2 has shown that the
sities for different applications. Figure 1 shows Solar Eye control system largely eliminates
a simplified schematic of how the irradiance variations in UV intensity and therefore greatly
control system works. reduces variations in test results.
Each sensor monitors the intensity of two
lamps. Each sensor is individually calibrated

1. ASTM G53, Standard Practice for Operating Light and Water Exposure Apparatus (Fluorescent UV-Condensation Type) for Exposure of
Nonmetalic Materials, Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol. 04.07, American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, 1992.
2. Fedor, G. R., Brennan, P. J., “Irradiance Control In Fluorescent UV Exposure Testers,” Accelerated and Outdoor Durability Testing of Organic
Materials, ASTM STP 1202, Warren D. Ketola, and Douglas Grossman, Eds., American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, 1993.
High Irradiance for Faster Results Exposure Results for Various
Polymers
The programmable, automatic irradiance control The programmable, automatic irradiance control
system allows the operator to choose a higher than system allows the operator to choose a higher than
standard level of irradiance for UV exposure tests. standard level of irradiance for UV exposure tests.
For many materials, this results in faster degra- For many materials, this results in faster degra-
dation and therefore shorter test times. dation and therefore shorter test times.

It is widely recognized the UVA-340 lamp is a more It is widely recognized the UVA-340 lamp is a more
realistic simulation of sunlight than the UVB-313 realistic simulation of sunlight than the UVB-313
lamp.3,4 Since its introduction, most of the plastics lamp.3,4 Since its introduction, most of the plastics
industry has switched to the UVA-340 because it industry has switched to the UVA-340 because it
gives more realistic results. However, in spite of its gives more realistic results. However, in spite of its
limitations, a large number of coatings researchers limitations, a large number of coatings researchers
continue to use the UV-B lamps because they give continue to use the UV-B lamps because they give
faster results. With the programmable controller, faster results. With the programmable controller,
the UVA-340 can now be operated at higher irra- the UVA-340 can now be operated at higher irra-
diance levels to speed up test results. Figure 2 diance levels to speed up test results. Figure 2
shows UVA-340 lamps at various irradiance levels, shows UVA-340 lamps at various irradiance levels,
compared to sunlight. compared to sunlight.

The recommended maximum increase over typical The recommended maximum increase over typical
G53 irradiance is 75%. Even though lamps are G53 irradiance is 75%. Even though lamps are
capable of higher intensity levels at full power, it is capable of higher intensity levels at full power, it is
not recommended that tests be run at levels higher not recommended that tests be run at levels higher
than 1.75x normal. There must be some excess than 1.75x normal. There must be some excess
power available to maintain the desired set point power available to maintain the desired set point
and account for such things as lamp aging and oth- and account for such things as lamp aging and oth-
er factors which reduce the maximum irradiance er factors which reduce the maximum irradiance
potential. It should be noted that lamps operated at potential. It should be noted that lamps operated at
higher than normal irradiance will have a propor- higher than normal irradiance will have a propor-
tionally shorter useful life span. tionally shorter useful life span.

Figure 2 Figure 3

UVA-340 at Different Intensities Acrylic Yellowing


1.5 100
Noon Summer Material: Epoxy Coating (gray)
Intensified Sunlight 80
1.75x
Irradiance W/m/nm

1
UVA-340 60 0.83
Typical Irradiance
Gloss

Test Conditions:
QUV/se
40 Lamp: UVA-340
0.5 Reduced to .35 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
Cycle: UV Only
20 Temperature: B.P. 50C

0 1.3
0
270 290 310 330 350 370 390 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
Wavelength (nm)
Hours QUV/se Exposure


Figure 4 Figure 8

Acrylic Yellowing Acrylic Yellowing


10 0.0
9 Material: Acrylic Sheet (clear) Material: Vinyl Film (green)

8
-0.2
7
6 Test Conditions:

delta b
delta b

Test Conditions: QUV/se


5 QUV/se -0.4 Lamp: UVA-340
Lamp: UVA-340 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
4 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm Cycle: UV Only
Cycle: UV Only Temperature: B.P. 50C
3 Temperature: B.P. 50C 1.3
-0.6
2
1.3
1 0.83
0.83
0 -0.8
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
Hours QUV/se Exposure Hours QUV/se Exposure

Figure 5 Figure 9
Polystyrene Yellowing Vinyl Yellowing
50 30
Material:
1.3 0.83 Polycarbonate Sheet (clear) 1.3
40

20 0.83
30
delta b
delta b

Material:
20 Polystyrene Reference Matl. (clear)
Test Conditions: 10 Test Conditions:
QUV/se
QUV/se
Lamp: UVA-340
10 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
Lamp: UVA-340
Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
Cycle: UV Only
Cycle: UV Only
Temperature: B.P. 50C
Temperature: B.P. 50C
0 0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
Hours QUV/se Exposure Hours QUV/se Exposure

Figure 6 Figure 10
Vinyl Yellowing Polycarbonate Yellowing
50 50
Material: P.V.C. Film (clear) Material: CAB Sheet (clear)
1.3 1.3
40
30

30 0.83
delta b
delta b

20 Test Conditions:
QUV/se
Lamp: UVA-340
Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
20
Cycle: UV Only Test Conditions:
QUV/se
10 Temperature: B.P. 50C
Lamp: UVA-340
10 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
Cycle: UV Only
0.83 Temperature: B.P. 50C
0 0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
Hours QUV/se Exposure Hours QUV/se Exposure

Figure 7 Figure 11
Vinyl Gloss Loss Polyester
100 100
90 Material: Acrylic Sheet (clear) 90 Material: Polyester Coating (tan)
80 80
70 0.83 70 Test Conditions:
QUV/se
60 60 Lamp: UVA-340
1.3
Gloss
Gloss

50 50 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm


Cycle: UV Only
40 40 Temperature: B.P. 50C
Test Conditions:
30 QUV/se 30
Lamp: UVA-340 0.83
20 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm 20
Cycle: UV Only
10 Temperature: B.P. 50C 10 1.3
0 0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
Hours QUV/se Exposure Hours QUV/se Exposure

Figure 12 Figure 16

Urethane Gloss Loss Polypropylene Yellowing


100 12
90 Material: Urethane Coating (gray) Material: Polypropylene Sheet
10 0.83
80
70 8 1.3
60

delta b
Gloss

50 0.83 6
40
Test Conditions: 4 Test Conditions:
30 QUV/se QUV/se
20
Lamp: UVA-340 1.3 Lamp: UVA-340
Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm 2 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
Cycle: UV Only Cycle: UV Only
10 Temperature: B.P. 50C Temperature: B.P. 50C
0 0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
Hours QUV/se Exposure Hours QUV/se Exposure

Figure 13 Figure 17
Yellowing Automotive Paint Gloss Loss
50 100
Material: ABS Sheet (white) 0.83
1.3
40 80 1.3
0.83
30 60
delta b

Gloss
Material: Automotive Coating (blue/gray)

20 40
Test Conditions: Test Conditions:
QUV/se QUV/se
10
Lamp: UVA-340
Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
20 Lamp: UVA-340
Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
Cycle: UV Only Cycle: UV Only
Temperature: B.P. 50C Temperature: B.P. 50C
0 0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
Hours QUV/se Exposure Hours QUV/se Exposure

Figure 14
Polystyrene Yellowing
0
Material: Polyesthylene Sheet Effect of Moisture
-1 1.3 For materials which are sensitive to moisture, there
may be a further acceleration when moisture is
delta b

-2 0.83 added to the UV cycle. Furthermore, some mate-


rials may respond in a completely different fashion
-3
Test Conditions:
QUV/se
in the presence of moisture. To test this, materials
Lamp: UVA-340
Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
were exposed under 4 different conditions:
Cycle: UV Only
Temperature: B.P. 50C
-4
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
• 100% UV Cycle (at 50oC)
Hours QUV/se Exposure

• UV + Moisture Cycle (4 hours UV at 50oC,


Figure 15 alternating with 4 hours condensation at
50oC)
Nylon Yellowing
5
• UV + Dark/dry Cycle (4 hours UV at 50oC,
Material: Nylon Sheet alternating with 4 hours dark at 50oC)
1.3
4
• Moisture + Dark/dry Cycle (4 hours dark
3
0.83 and dry at 50oC, alternating with 4 hours
delta b

condensation at 50oC)
2
Test Conditions:
QUV/se
1 On the blue vinyl film, the UV+Moisture Cycle
Lamp: UVA-340
Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm

degraded the material most rapidly. Although the


Cycle: UV Only
Temperature: B.P. 50C
0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 100% UV Cycle exposed the material to twice the
 Hours QUV/se Exposure UV “dosage,” the results were not as severe.
Figure 18 Exposure Duration & Measurement
Vinyl Gloss Loss Intervals
100 As a general rule, exposures should be run until
Material: Vinyl Film (blue)
90 the material has reached complete failure. This
80 Moisture + Dark/Dry
is because the perceived difference in the rate of
70 UV + Dark/Dry
degradation between any two exposures may vary,
60
depending on how the data is analyzed.
100% UV
Gloss

50
UV + Moisture
40
Figure 21 shows how running an exposure test
30 Test Conditions:

20
QUV/se
Lamp: UVA-340
to a predetermined level of degradation (in this
10
Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
Cycle: UV Only case, yellowing) can cause confusion. If the expo-
sure had been terminated after a delta b of 8 was
Temperature: B.P. 50C
0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 reached, the higher irradiance exposure would
Hours QUV/se Exposure
appear to be 48% faster. If the exposure had been
terminated at a delta b of 34, the higher irradiance
Figure 19 test would appear to be only 32% faster. Only run-
Urethane Gloss Loss ning the test to complete failure shows the true
relationship between the two exposures.
100
90 Material: Urethane Coating (gray)

80
Figure 21
Moisture + Dark/Dry
70
60
Comparison at Varying Levels of Yellowing
Gloss

UV + Dark/Dry
50
40 Test Conditions: 48
Material: ABS Sheet (white)
30 QUV/se
Lamp: UVA-340 1.3
20
100% UV Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 40
W/m2/nm @ 340nm
10 Cycle: UV Only 0.83
UV + Moisture Temperature: B.P. 50C 32
0
delta b

0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 24


Hours QUV/se Exposure delta b = 34

16
3% faster
Test Conditions:
QUV/se

Figure 20
Lamp: UVA-340
8 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
delta b = 8 Cycle: UV Only

Polypropylene Gloss Loss 0


4% faster Temperature: B.P. 50C

0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500


11 Material: Polypropylene Sheet (natural) Hours QUV/se Exposure

9 100% UV

7
UV + Dark/Dry
Test Conditions:
Figure 22 shows the same data used in the pre-
delta b

5
QUV/se
Lamp: UVA-340 vious figure. However, here the exposures were
analysed after a predetermined number of hours. If
Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
Cycle: UV Only
3 the two exposures are compared at 500 hours, the
Temperature: B.P. 50C

UV + Moisture
1 difference appears to be 100%. If they are com-
Moisture + Dark/Dry
pared at 1000 hours, the difference is 22%.
-1
0 1000 2000 3000
Hours QUV/se Exposure

This moisture effect is even more dramatic on the


urethane. Again, although the UV+Moisture Cycle
exposed the material to only half the UV dosage
as the 100% UV Cycle, the rate of degradation is
much faster.

Sometimes the presence of moisture effects both


the rate and the type of degradation. This is illus-
trated in Figure 20. In this case, the UV+Moisture
Cycle gave a very different result than the cycles
that omitted moisture. 
Table 1

Materials Tester

Material Polymer Description Color Thickness

1 Vinyl film clear 0.006

2 Vinyl glossy film blue 0.003

3 Polystyrene ref. material plaque clear 0.110

4 Vinyl film green 0.004

5 Epoxy coil coating gray

6 Urethane coil coating gray

7 ? automotive paint blue

8 Polyester coil coating tan

9 Acrylic sheet clear 1/8"

10 Polycarbonate sheet clear 1/8"

11 Polyethylene sheet white 1/8"

12 ABS sheet white 1/8"

13 CAB sheet clear 1/8"

14 Polypropylene sheet natural 3/16"

15 Nylon sheet natural 3/16"

An even more dramatic example of this is shown These examples also illustrate why degradation
in Figure 23. After 1000 hours exposure, there is should be measured at regular intervals during an
no difference in the exposure results. However, at exposure, rather than at the end of a preset time.
1500 hours, there is an 18 to 1 difference. Because
the lower irradiance test was terminated before the
sample reached failure, there is no way to know
the actual relationship between the two exposures.

Figure 22 Figure 23

Comparison at Various Exposure Times Comparison at Varying Time Intervals


48 40
Material: ABS Sheet (white) Material: P.V.C. Film (clear)
1.3 36
40
32 Test Conditions: 1.3
32
@1000 hours
% more
0.83 28 QUV/se
Lamp: UVA-340
24
yellowing Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm
delta b

Cycle: UV Only
delta b

24 20 Temperature: B.P. 50C


@00 hours
100% more 16
16
@100 hours
yellowing Test Conditions:
12
18x more yellowing
QUV/se than @ 1000 hours
Lamp: UVA-340
8 Irradiance: 1.35 & 0.83 W/m2/nm @ 340nm 8
Cycle: UV Only
4
Temperature: B.P. 50C 0.83
0 0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
 Hours QUV/se Exposure Hours QUV/se Exposure
Summary & Conclusions Acknowledgement
There is currently great interest in using high ir- The authors would like to recognize Sandra Kalm-
radiance exposures as a method of accelerating bach for her assistance in data collection and orga-
laboratory weathering tests. One way to achieve nization.
higher irradiance is with the programmable auto-
matic irradiance control system now available for
use in QUV/SE weathering testers. This system
was designed to maintain a precise UV intensity
level throughout an exposure test. With this sys-
tem, the operator can choose from a range of ir-
radiance levels, up to 75% over that of a standard
QUV device.

Accelerated laboratory weathering data from a va-


riety of materials indicates that, for some of these
materials, exposure to high light intensity levels in
a QUV/SE causes faster degradation. For these
materials, test times can be reduced by using
higher irradiance exposures.

However for other materials, moisture or tem-


perature may play a critical roll in degradation.
Moisture in the test cycle increased the rate of yel-
lowing or gloss loss for 5 of the 15 materials tested,
as compared to UV only exposures. Furthermore,
experience indicates that irradiance, moisture,
dark time, and temperature frequently have a syn-
ergistic effect. Using high irradiance to reduce test
times is a promising technique for quality control
and product development. However it could have
a detrimental effect on correlations between labo-
ratory and outdoor results.


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