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Title: Processing melt blended polymer nanocomposites using a novel laboratory mini-mixer : development of polymer nanocomposites in the melt phase using a novel mini-mixer
Author: Khan, Atif Hussain
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 7685
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2012
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Research into the processing conditions and parameters of polymeric nanocomposites has always been challenging to scientists and engineers alike. Many have developed tools and procedures to allow materials to be exploited and their properties improved with the addition of nanofillers to achieve the desired end material for various applications. Initial trials are mostly conducted using conventional small scale experiments using specialised equipment within the laboratory that can replicate the larger industrial equipment. This is a logical approach as it could save time and costs as many nanocomposites are relatively expensive to produce. Experiments have previously been done using the likes of the Haake twin screw extruder to manufacture nanocomposites within the laboratory but this research project has used a novel minimixer specifically developed to replicate mixing like large twin screw extrusion machines. The minimixer uses a twin paddle system for high shear mixing in conjunction with a single screw thus theoretically allowing an infinitely long recirculation. It is this ability to mix intensely whilst allowing for as long as desired recirculation which enables the replication in this very small mixer (10-30g capacity) of the mixing conditions in a large twin screw extruder. An added feature of the minimixer is that it can undertake inline data analysis in real time. The main experiments were conducted using a comprehensive DOE approach with several different factors being used including the temperature, screw speed, residence time, clay and compatibiliser loading and two polymer MFI's. The materials used included PP, Cloisite 20A, Polybond 3200, PET, Somasif MTE, Polyurethane 80A and Single / Multi-walled Carbon nanotubes. Detailed experimental results highlighted that rheological analysis of the nanocomposite materials as an initial testing tool were accurate in determining the Elastic and Loss modulus values together with the Creep and Recovery, Viscosity and Phase Angle properties in the molten state. This approach was also used in an additional set of experiments whereby the temperature, speed, residence time and compatibiliser were kept constant but the clay loading was increased in 1% wt. increments. These results showed that the G' & G'' values increased with clay loading. Another important finding was the bi-axial stretching step introduced after the processing stage of the nanocomposite materials which highlighted a further improvement in the modulus values using rheological testing. Other tests included using inline monitoring to look into both the viscosity and ultrasound measurements in real time of the molten polymer nanocomposite through a slit die attachment to the minimixer.
Supervisor: Benkreira, Hadj; Patel, Rajnikant; Coates, Philip D. Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Nanocomposites ; Nanoclay ; Intercalation ; Exfoliation ; Polypropylene ; Mixing ; Extrusion ; Stretching ; Rheology ; Minimixer ; Elasticity ; Viscosity