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Title: The influence of multi-walled carbon nanotubes on the properties of polypropylene nanocomposite : the enhancement of dispersion and alignment of multiwalled carbon nanotube in polypropylene nanocomposite and its effect on the mechanical, thermal, rheological and electrical properties
Author: Ezat, Gulstan S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 7167
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2012
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Carbon nanotubes are known as ideal fillers for polymer systems; the main advantage of carbon nanotubes over other nano-reinforcing particles is the combination of superior strength and stiffness with large aspect ratio. Carbon nanotubes may improve the mechanical, electrical and thermal properties of polymers, but to realise their potential in polymer systems uniform dispersion, strong interfacial adhesion and alignment of nanotubes within the polymer matrix are necessary. These properties are not easy to achieve and they are key challenges in producing CNT/Polymer system. This research was carried out in an attempt to understand how the properties of CNT/Polymer composite can be optimised by manipulation of additives, compounding and postcompounding conditions. Polypropylene/Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotube (PP/MCNT) composites were prepared by conventional twin screw extrusion. Dispersants and compatibilisers were used to establish good interaction between filler and polymer. Several different extruder screw configurations were designed and the properties of PP/MCNT composite prepared by each configuration investigated. The results indicated that the addition of carbon nanotubes without additives enhanced mechanical, electrical and thermal properties of polypropylene polymer. Incorporation of compatibilisers into PP/MCNT improved the stiffness but decreased the strength of the nanocomposite, whilst addition of dispersants decreased the mechanical properties of the nanocomposite. Addition of both additives at high concentration improved electrical conductivity and induced electrical percolation in the nanocomposite. Extruder screw configuration was found to have significant effect on the electrical conductivity whilst only slightly affecting mechanical properties of the nanocomposite, possibly due to the competition between dispersion and degradation of polymer chains and possible reduction of carbon nanotube length by intensive shear during compounding. The use of screw configuration with high mixing intensity promoted the dispersion of nanotubes and favoured the conduction process in the nanocomposite. Finally in an attempt to improve dispersion and alignment of carbon nanotubes, compounded PP/MCNT composite was subjected to micromoulding, fibre spinning and biaxial stretching processes and the resultant properties investigated. Application of post-compounding process was found to have significant effect on mechanical and rheological properties of the nanocomposite. Stiffness and strength of the nanocomposites treated by post-compounding processes were found to increase by up to 160% and 300%, respectively. The reinforcement effect of carbon nanotubes in the stretched nanocomposites was found to be the greatest. Rheological analysis suggested that the application of post-compounding processes enhanced dispersion of carbon nanotubes within the nanocomposite. Overall, this finding of this research has shown that carbon nanotubes can be incorporated into polypropylene using conventional equipment to provide significant improvement in properties. By careful choices of additives, compounding and postcompounding conditions, specific properties can be further enhanced.
Supervisor: Youseffi, Mansour; Kelly, Adrian L. Sponsor: Ministry of Higher Education in Kurdistan Region in Iraq
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Carbon nanotubes ; Polymer nanocomposite ; Dispersion ; Orientation ; Rheology ; Electrical resistivity