Authors: J.D.M. Shearer, C.M.F. Barry, J. Mead
Affilation: University of Massachusetts Lowell, United States
Pages: 174 - 177
Keywords: nanocomposites, extrusion
Polymer nanocomposites are composed of a nanofiller with a polymer matrix. Typical fillers include nanoclay, carbon nanotubes, nanoparticle silver, nanoalumina, etc. The materials exhibit unique material properties, such as improved barrier properties, flame retardance, and mechanical properties, depending on filler choice. A critical barrier to obtaining optimal properties is the need for excellent dispersion of the nanofiller, coupled with uniform distribution throughout the polymer matrix. To create the materials in an industrially relevant manner, continuous melt mixing processes are necessary. Dispersion is dependent on processing parameters, and functionalization of the filler to enhance compatibility with the polymer. During processing it is critical to provide sufficient energy input to the mixture to break up the agglomerated filler. Energy input is controlled by melt viscosity, temperature, screw speed, etc. Moreover, approaches to quantify the dispersion and distribution are needed. This work covers our approach to preparing well-dispersed nanocomposites using an industrially relevant twin screw process for a wide variety of polymer types and nanofillers. The materials have application for lighter weight structural parts, barrier materials for improved packaging (e.g MREs), EMI shielding, and antimicrobial performance.