Property enhancement in unsaturated polyester nanocomposites by using a reactive intercalant for clay modification
Polymeric nanocomposites were synthesized from unsaturated polyester (UPE) matrix and montmorillonite (MMT) clay using an in situ free radical polymerization reaction. Organophilic MMT was obtained using a quaternary salt of coco amine as intercalant having a styryl group making it a reactive intercalant. The resultant nanocomposites were characterized via X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. The effect of increased nanofiller loading on the thermal and mechanical properties of the nanocomposites was investigated. All the nanocomposites were found to have improved thermal and mechanical properties as compared with neat UPE matrix, resulting from the contribution of nanolayer connected intercalant-to- crosslinker which allows a crosslinking reaction. It was found that the partially exfoliated nanocomposite structure with an exfoliation dominant morphology was achieved when the MMT loading was 1 wt %. This nanocomposite exhibited the highest thermal stability, the best dynamic mechanical performance and the highest crosslinking density, most probably due to more homogeneous dispersion and optimum amount of styrene monomer molecules inside and outside the MMT layers at 1 wt % loading. Copyright © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.