Reinforced thermoplastics for engineering applications
The effect of mechano-chemically bound polypropylene modifiers on the mechanical performance and thermal-oxidative stability of polypropylene composites has been studied. The mechanical performance of unmodified polypropylene containing silane coupled glass and Rockwool (mineral) fibre was poor by comparison with a similar commercially produced glass reinforced composite; this was attributed to poor fibre-matrix adhesion. Mechano-chemical binding with unsaturated additives was obtained in the presence of a free radical initiator (di-cumyl peroxide). This process was inhibited by stabilisers present in commercial grades of polypropylene composites by chemical bond formation between the chemically bound modifier and the silane coupling agent on the fibre surface, resulting in a dramatic improvement in the mechanical properties, dimensional stability and retention of mechanical performance after immersion in fluids typically found in under-bonnet environments.A feature unique to some of these modifiers was their ability not only to enhance the mechanical properties of polypropylene composites to levels substantially in excess of currently available commercial materials, but their ability to act as effective thermal-oxidative polypropylene stabilisers. The mode of action was shown to be a chain-breaking mechanism and as a result of the high binding levels achieved during melt processing, these modifiers were able to efficiently stabilise polypropylene in the most severe volatilising and solvent-extracting environments, thus giving much better protection to the polymer than currently available commercially stabilised grades of polypropylene.