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TECHNICAL PAPERS

Characterization of Polypropylene Nanocomposite Structures

[+] Author and Article Information
K. Kanny

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Durban Institute of Technology, 70 Mansfield Road, Durban, 4001, South Africakannyk@dit.ac.za

V. K. Moodley

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Durban Institute of Technology, 70 Mansfield Road, Durban, 4001, South Africavishnum@dit.ac.za

J. Eng. Mater. Technol 129(1), 105-112 (Jun 13, 2006) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2400264 History: Received July 25, 2005; Revised June 13, 2006

This study describes the synthesis, mechanical properties, and morphology of nanophased polypropylene structures. The structures were manufactured by melt-blending low weight percentages of montmorillonite nanoclays and polypropylene thermoplastic. Both virgin and infused polypropylene structures were then subjected to quasi-static tensile, flexural, hardness and impact tests. Analysis of test data show that the mechanical properties increase with an increase in nanoclay loading up to a threshold of 2wt.%; thereafter, the material properties degrade. At low weight nanoclay loadings the enhancement of properties is attributed to the lower percolation points created by the high aspect ratio nanoclays. The increase in properties may also be attributed to the formation of intercalated and exfoliated nanocomposite structures formed at these loadings of clay. At higher weight loading, degradation in mechanical properties may be attributed to the formation of agglomerated clay tactoids. Results of transmission electron microscopy studies and scanning electron microscopy studies of the fractured surface of tensile specimens verify these hypotheses.

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Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

A schematic of structures as per the literature and the corresponding TEM images of 0.5wt.%, 1wt.%, and 2wt.% nanoclay infused PP structures is shown. The dimensions for these structures are displayed in the table.

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Figure 2

Stress versus strain for virgin polypropylene specimens loaded in tension

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Figure 8

SEM images of fracture polypropylene nanocomposite specimens: (a) PP infused with 2wt.% nanoclays, (b) PP infused with 5wt.% nanoclays, (c) image of the fractured surface of PP infused with 5wt.% nanoclays, generated at 20× magnification, using a light microscope. Areas where poor dispersion occurred are visible.

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Figure 9

TEM images of polypropylene nanocomposite specimens: (a) PP infused with 3wt.% nanoclays; (b) PP infused with 5wt.% nanoclays

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Figure 10

Comparison of simulated and experimental moduli of PP nanocomposites as a function of volume fraction

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Figure 3

Stress versus strain behavior of pristine polypropylene and polypropylene nanocomposites infused at various clay weight loadings

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Figure 4

Tensile strength versus modulus for polypropylene-Cloisite®15A nanocomposite specimens as a function of clay concentration (in weight percent)

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Figure 5

Flexural load versus deflection for virgin and PP nanocomposite specimens

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Figure 6

(a) Impact strength for virgin and nanoinfused polypropylene at various clay loadings, (b) Vickers hardness for virgin and nano-infused polypropylene at various clay loadings

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Figure 7

SEM images of fracture virgin and polypropylene nanocomposite specimens: (a) virgin PP, (b) PP infused with 0.5wt.% nanoclays, (c) PP infused with 1wt.% nanoclays

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