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Structure and properties of polypropylene/organic rectorite nanocomposites

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Melt blending using a twin-screw extruder was used to prepare composites of polypropylene (PP)/organic rectorite (PR). The organic rectorite (OREC) was modified with dodecyl benzyl dimethyl ammonium bromide (1227). Wide-angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) and transmission electron microscopy were used to investigate the dispersion of OREC in the composites. The d spacings of OREC in PR composites was greater than in OREC itself. The dispersion of OREC particles in the PP polymer matrix was fine and uniform when the clay content was small (2 wt.%). The rheology was characterized using a capillary rheometer. The processing behaviour of the PR system improved as the amount of OREC added increased. Non-isothermal crystallization kinetics were analysed using differential scanning calorimetry. It was shown that the addition of OREC had a heterogeneous nucleation effect on PP, and can accelerate the crystallization. However, only when fine dispersion was achieved, and at lower rates of temperature decrease, was the crystallinity greater. Wide-angle X-ray diffraction and polarized light microscopy were used to observe the crystalline form and crystallite size. The PP in the PR composites exhibited an α-monoclinic crystal form, as in pure PP, and in both cases a spherulite structure was observed. However, the smaller spherulite size in the PR systems indicated that addition of OREC can reduce the crystal size significantly, which might improve the 'toughness' of the PP. The mechanical properties (tensile and impact strength) improved when the amount of OREC added was appropriate. Dynamic mechanical analysis showed that the storage modulus (E′) and loss modulus (E′′) of the nanocomposites were somewhat greater than those of pure PP when an appropriate amount of OREC was added. Finally, thermogravimetric analysis showed that the PR systems exhibited a greater thermal stability than was seen with pure PP.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2009

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