As well as inorganic complexes, thermal analysis is applicable to a wide range
of substances, e.g. polymers, drugs, soils and coals. It can also be applied to
mixtures of, for example, polymer blends.
Degradation of polymers :
The effect of heat on polymers varies according to
the type of polymer under investigation. In an inert atmosphere, polymeric
materials react in two distinct ways: they either depolymerize or carbonize.
For example, poly(methyl methacrylate) may degrade back to the monomer.
The composition of soil is complex and varies with location and
geology. Three general stages of soil decomposition on heating can be
- Loss of moisture and simple organic compounds (between room
temperature and 150°C).
- Ignition of soil organic matter (between 250 and 550°C).
- Presence of minerals e.g. carbonates. The process can be complicated by
the presence of hydrated minerals e.g. aluminium and iron oxides, and
micas (above 550°C).
The presence of water in both 'free' and 'bound' states in
pharmaceuticals can be identified.