Investigation on the competing effects of clay dispersion and matrix plasticisation for polypropylene/clay nanocomposites. Part I: morphology and mechanical properties
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The key compatibiliser role of maleated polypropylene (MAPP) to improve the clay dispersability has been explicitly addressed in the fabrication process and material characterisation of polypropylene (PP)/clay nanocomposites. However, its matrix plasticiser role, which has been rarely mentioned, could adversely influence the excellent mechanical properties of such nanocomposites, resulting from the homogeneous clay dispersion. PP/clay nanocomposites in the presence of MAPP were prepared by twin screw extrusion and subsequently injection moulded with three typical material formulations in fixed parametric settings: (1) weight ratio (WR) of clay and MAPP, WR = 1:2; (2) MAPP content of 6 wt% and (3) clay content of 5 wt%. The morphological structures and mechanical properties of PP/clay nanocomposites were examined by using X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and universal mechanical testing. The further improvement of mechanical properties was evidently hindered with very inconsiderable alteration of morphological structures in terms of the clay dispersion level. This observation could be ascribed to the change of MAPP role from a compatibiliser to a plasticiser because of its excessive amount used above a certain saturation level, which was found in the range of 3–6 wt% in MAPP contents for the enhancements of tensile and flexural properties of PP/clay nanocomposites.
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