Development of polylactide and polypropylene composites reinforced with sisal fibres and halloysite nanotubes for automotive and structural engineering applications

Krishnaiah, Prakash (2017) Development of polylactide and polypropylene composites reinforced with sisal fibres and halloysite nanotubes for automotive and structural engineering applications. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

In recent decades, scientific research giving more attention to the development of bio-based polymer composites due to the extensive usage of petroleum based fillers as well as polymer matrices for the generation of polymer composites. It is a well-known fact that the petroleum derived polymer composites raise inevitable issues such as environmental pollution, waste management and depletion of petroleum resources etc. So it is important to develop fully or partially biodegradable polymer composites without compromising the mechanical, physical and thermal properties which are required for the end use applications. In this investigation, two different types of filler materials such as sisal fibres and halloysite nanotubes were used to prepare PLA polymer composites and their morphology, physical, mechanical, dynamic mechanical, thermal, water absorption and biodegradable properties were studied. This work also involves the preparation and properties of polypropylene composites reinforced with sisal fibres and halloysite nanotubes to compare the mechanical and thermal properties with PLA composites.

First, surface treatment was performed for sisal fibres in order to remove the amorphous materials such as hemicellulose, lignin and pectin from the surface of the fibres which enhances the fibre-matrix interfacial strength and mechanical properties of the fibres and their polymer composites. Sisal fibres were subjected to different surface treatments such as alkali, high intensity ultrasound (HIU), and the combination of alkali and HIU and their effects on the morphology, fibre diameter, moisture absorption, mechanical and thermal properties of untreated and surface treated sisal fibres were studied. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM) results confirmed the removal of amorphous materials after the combined treatments of alkali and ultrasound. Moisture absorption and diameter of the sisal fibres were significantly reduced by 40 and 200% respectively after the combination of alkali and HIU treatment as compared to untreated sisal fibres. TGA results revealed that the thermal stability of sisal fibres obtained with the combination of alkali and HIU treatment significantly increased by 38.5 oC as compared to the untreated fibres. Tensile properties of single fibre showed a reduction in the tensile strength and modulus by 25% and 26% respectively as compared to the untreated sisal fibre owing to surface treatments. A reduction in the tensile properties is mainly due to the removal of amorphous materials from the surface of sisal fibres which act as binding materials for cellulose.



Second, the effect of different surface treatments on the morphology, mechanical, thermal, water absorption and biodegradable properties of sisal fibres reinforced PLA (SF/PLA) composites has been investigated. For this, different ratio of untreated and surface treated sisal fibres was mixed with PLA polymer matrix by using an internal mixer. Compounded materials from the internal mixer were subjected to compression moulding to prepare the test specimens. FE-SEM analysis confirmed the good dispersion of different surface treated SF in the PLA composites. The tensile strength and modulus increased by 10 and 75.4% for 15 wt% and 30 wt% of fibre loading respectively with the combined treatment of alkali and HIU PLA composites as compared to the untreated fibre reinforced PLA composites. Young’s modulus of the composites has also been predicted by using the theoretical models which fit well to the obtained experimental values. Dynamic-mechanical analysis (DMA) revealed that the combination of alkali and HIU treated SF/PLA composites showed an increase in the storage modulus by 15% and 30% as compared to the untreated fibre composites and pure PLA respectively. TGA and DSC analysis revealed that the thermal stability and crystallinity increased significantly for the PLA composites reinforced with sisal fibres of combined treatment of alkali and HIU. Water absorption study showed a considerable reduction in the water absorption and coefficient of diffusion by 136% and 130% respectively for the combination of alkali and HIU treated SF/PLA composites as compared to untreated SF/PLA composites. The degradation of SF/PLA composites was studied by composting the samples into the soil. A significant weight loss of 17.87% could be observed for the addition of 30 wt% of untreated SF/PLA composites after soil composting for 120 days.



Apart from sisal fibres, halloysite (Hal) nanotubes were also used as reinforcement fillers to study their effectiveness in improving the mechanical and thermal properties of PLA nanocomposites. Hal nanotubes were surface modified with 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APTES) to enhance the surface interaction of Hal nanotubes with PLA and to achieve good dispersion of Hal nanotubes across the PLA matrix. Nitrogen adsorption-desorption, FTIR and TGA analysis results were confirmed the successful modification of Hal nanotubes surface with APTES. The different wt% of unmodified and APTES modified Hal-PLA nanocomposites were prepared by using internal mixer and compression moulding machine. The resultant Hal-PLA nanocomposites were characterized for their morphology, thermal, mechanical and dynamic-mechanical properties. Tensile strength increased to 62.6 MPa with the addition of 4 wt% of APTES modified Hal-PLA nanocomposites which is 26.5% higher than pure PLA and 15% higher than unmodified (4 wt%) Hal-PLA nanocomposites. Impact strength of 4 wt% APTES modified Hal-PLA nanocomposites increased by 20% and 40% as compared to unmodified Hal-PLA nanocomposites and the pure PLA respectively. TGA analysis revealed that the thermal stability increased significantly by 17 oC with the addition of 4 wt % of APTES modified Hal nanotubes onto PLA. Storage modulus increased by more than 10% with the addition of 4 wt% of APTES modified Hal nanotubes as compared to pure PLA.

To compare the PLA composites with conventional polymer matrix composites, composites of polypropylene (PP) were prepared by reinforcing with sisal fibres and Hal nanotubes and the effect of surface treatment of sisal fibres and surface modification of Hal nanotubes on the mechanical and thermal properties of SF/PP and Hal-PP nanocomposites were studied. Tensile properties were increased for the combined treated SF/PP composites as compared to the untreated and pure PP. Tensile modulus and strength increased by more than 50% and 10% respectively as compared to the untreated SF/PP composites. TGA and DSC results revealed that the combination of alkali and HIU treatments increased the thermal stability and crystallinity by 8 oC and 8% respectively as compared to untreated SF/PP composites. DMA analysis confirmed the significant enhancement of storage modulus for the combined treated SF/PP composites by 50% as compared to pure PP. Mechanical and thermal properties were studied for unmodified and APTES modified Hal nanotubes reinforced PP nanocomposites. The investigations suggest that the mechanical properties of APTES modified Hal-PP nanocomposites were found to be superior to the unmodified Hal-PP nanocomposites. The tensile strength and modulus increased by 31 and 72% with the addition of 6 wt% of APTES modified Hal-PP nanocomposites as compared to pure PP. Impact strength also increased by 44% than pure PP with 6 wt% loading of APTES modified Hal nanotubes. Thermal analysis revealed that the thermal stability and percentage crystallinity increased by 15 oC and 22% respectively for the Hal-PP nanocomposites with surface modification by APTES. DMA analysis shows the improved storage modulus by 28% as compared to pure PP.

Based on the present work, it can be said that the sisal fibres and Hal nanotubes have potential as reinforcing materials in the generation of fully bio-based polymer composites. However, surface treatments and/or modification were playing an important role in order to tune the required mechanical and thermal properties of the polymer composites. This study also proved that in comparison to the conventional polymer matrix materials such as PP, PLA is a strong competitor with respect to its good mechanical properties and improved thermal stability apart from the fact that PLA is one of the best known biodegradable and biocompatible polymer matrices in the current market to use not only in medical application, but also in various commercial applications such as packaging, automotive and home appliances.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Manickam, Sivakumar
Ratnam, Chantara Thevy
Keywords: biodegradable plastics, sisal fibres, halloysite nanotubes (HNTs), fibrous composites, biopolymers, polymeric composites
Subjects: T Technology > TP Chemical technology
T Technology > TP Chemical technology > TP1080 Polymers and polymer manufacture
Faculties/Schools: UNMC Malaysia Campus > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Item ID: 43498
Depositing User: KRISHNAIAH, PRAKASH
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2018 08:37
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2018 03:11
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/43498

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