Preparation and characterization of carbon nanotubes/polypropylene nanocomposites

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University of New Brunswick


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) reveal exceptional mechanical properties and multifunctional characteristics. Due to their unique properties, CNTs are considered to be ideal reinforcement for polymer nanocomposites. However, research must be done to develop dispersion techniques to produce uniform composites made with these nanoscale components. The goal of this research project is to improve the performance of cheap commodity polymers by incorporating multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWNT) to compete with more expensive engineered polymers such as nylon. Composites of MWNT and polypropylene (PP) with various MWNT loading of 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 wt% were prepared by using high shear twin-screw compounding. The mechanical properties of MWNT /PP composites were determined and compared to neat PP and commercially available nylon-6,6. The uniformity of the composites was characterized using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and composition confirmed by thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA). Rheological properties of MWNT/PP composites were studied in detail and related to processing of polymer composites. Significant improvement in Young modulus by 42% and a slight increase in Tensile strength of nanocomposites materials were obtained at optimum loading of MWNT. The optimum MWNT loading was obtained at 7wt. % when mechanical, thermal, and uniformity of nanocomposites are considered.