The effect of solar radiation on plastic nets and tarpaulins
We are of course aware of the effect of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation on our skin. We all have had a red nose once after a beautiful summer day. Just like our skin, plastics are also impacted by exposure to UV radiation from sunlight.
The UV radiation’s intensity is measured in kLy (kilo-Langley), a unit of which represents how much UV radiation energy falls on a cm² per year. UV radiation is variable and depends to a large extent on the geographical location. This map of the world shows the average intensity of UV radiation per region.
UV radiation not only causes plastics to lose colour, but also has a negative effect on their lifespan. Just like we protect ourselves against the sun’s short-term and long-term effects by using sunscreen, UV stabilisers are added to plastic products during the production process to slow down the ageing process. All our products containing UV stabilisers have an indicative kLy value to give you an idea of their expected useful life.
In most West European countries, the average UV radiation level ranges from 80 to 100 kLy a year. This means that nets or tarpaulins with a kLy value of 400 can resist the harmful effects of UV radiation for a minimum of 4 to 5 years. After this period, the tensile strength is theoretically still at least 50% of the initial value. In practice, their lifespan can be longer or shorter, depending on fluctuations in the amount of sunlight as well as other atmospheric conditions such as temperature, humidity, reflection from snow, etc.
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