Hybrid Composite Using Natural Filler and Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWCNTs)
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© 2017 Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature This paper presents an experimental study on the development of hybrid composites comprising of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and natural filler (oil palm shell (OPS) powder) within unsaturated polyester (UP) matrix. The results revealed that the dispersion of pristine MWCNTs in the polymer matrix was strongly enhanced through use of the solvent mixing method assisted by ultrasonication. Four different solvents were investigated, namely, ethanol, methanol, styrene and acetone. The best compatibility with minimum side effects on the curing of the polyester resin was exhibited by the styrene solvent and this produced the maximum tensile and flexural properties of the resulting nanocomposites. A relatively small amount of pristine MWCNTs well dispersed within the natural filler polyester composite was found to be capable of improving mechanical properties of hybrid composite. However, increasing the MWCNT amount resulted in increased void content within the matrix due to an associated rapid increase in viscosity of the mixture during processing. Due to this phenomenon, the maximum tensile and flexural strengths of the hybrid composites were achieved at MWCNT contents of 0.2 to 0.4 phr and then declined for higher MWCNT amounts. The flexural modulus also experienced its peak at 0.4 phr MWCNT content whereas the tensile modulus exhibited a general decrease with increasing MWCNT content. Thermal stability analysis using TGA under an oxidative atmosphere showed that adding MWCNTs shifted the endset degradation temperature of the hybrid composite to a higher temperature.
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