Key Difference – XLPE vs PVC
XLPE is crosslinked polyethylene. PVC is polyvinyl chloride. The key difference between XLPE and PVC is that XLPE has crosslinks between polymer chains whereas PVC has no crosslinks between polymer chains.
PVC is also known as polychloroethane. That is because the monomer used to produce PVC is chloroethene.
What is XLPE?
XLPE is crosslinked polyethylene. Sometimes it is denoted as PEX or XPE as well. It is a form of polyethylene. Polyethylene is a polymer material. The monomer used to make this polymer is ethylene. Polyethylene polymer chains are produced by addition polymerization of ethylene monomers. XLPE is produced from polyethylene polymer chains by adding a crosslinking agent. XLPE is a good alternative for PVC.
Properties of XLPE
- Low-temperature impact strength
- Abrasion resistance
- Crack resistance
- Reduced hardness and rigidity (compared to non-crosslinked polyethylene)
- Chemical resistance
- Scratch resistance
Benefits of using XLPE
- Can work with a wide range of voltages
- Low material cost for production
- Provides mechanical protection
- Thermal resistance allows it to be used even at considerably high temperatures
- Resistant to moisture
- Weather resistance, thus, corrosion resistant
However, there are some drawbacks when using this material as well. Sunlight can degrade XLPE. The degradation is considerably rapid. And also, this material can be damaged by some insects.
What is PVC?
PVC is polyvinyl chloride. It is a thermoplastic polymer material made of chloroethene monomers. PVC is one of the commonly used polymer material along with polyethylene and polypropylene. There are two major types of PVC named as rigid form and flexible form. Rigid PVC is used in construction needs and flexible form is used for wiring and cables.
There are 3 steps of producing PVC:
- Conversion of ethene into 1,2-dichloroethane (via chlorination)
- Cracking 1,2-dichloroethane into chloroethene (HCl is eliminated in this step)
- Polymerization of chloroethene to produce PVC (via free-radical polymerization)
Properties of PVC
- High hardness and beneficial mechanical properties
- Poor heat stability
- Good flame retardancy
- High electrical insulation
- Chemical resistance
Benefits of PVC
- Readily available
- Good tensile strength
- Resistance to chemicals such as acids and bases
What are the Similarities Between XLPE and PVC?
- Both XLPE and PVC are plastic materials
- Both are resistant to chemicals
- Both are cheap
- XLPE is flexible and there are flexible PVC forms as well
What is the Difference Between XLPE and PVC?
XLPE vs PVC
|XLPE is crosslinked polyethylene.||PVC is polyvinyl chloride.|
|XLPE has crosslinks between polymer chains.||PVC has no crosslinks between polymer chains.|
|XLPE is made out of ethylene monomers.||PVC is made out of chloroethene monomers.|
|XLPE is formed from addition polymerization.||PVC is made from free-radical polymerization.|
Summary – XLPE vs PVC
Both XLPE and PVC have many similar properties that allow them to be used interchangeably. The difference between XLPE and PVC is that XLPE has crosslinks between polymer chains whereas PVC has no crosslinks between polymer chains.
1. Lazonby, John. “Poly(Chloroethene) (Polyvinyl Chloride).” The Essential Chemical Industry Online. Available here
2. “Cross-Linked Polyethylene.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Apr. 2018. Available here
3. Benjamin, Kelly. “Cross Linked Polyethylene (XLPE) Benefits.” Performance Wire and Cable, 27 Feb. 2018. Available here