Although water uptake is used as an indicator of the moisture sensitivity of polymers, water permeability is a more reliable variable to use. To determine a polymer's water permeability, its diffusion coefficient and its solubility coefficient are required. Both these parameters are temperature and pressure dependent.
Water uptake is usually measured gravimetrically as a function of immersion time and/or water temperature. When the amount of water absorbed has reached a maximum, a suitable mathematical model can be fitted to data of weight gained as a function of time. From this, the diffusion coefficient can be extracted, which corresponds to the velocity of water molecules transported into the polymer.
The solubility coefficient corresponds to the amount of water dissolved in a polymer.
Permeability is the product of the diffusion coefficient and the solubility coefficient. Typical water permeability values for a number of base polymers are shown in Fig.1.