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Influence of Nanomaterial Compatibilization Strategies on Polyamide Nanocomposites Properties and Nanomaterial Release during the Use Phase

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journal contribution
posted on 01.02.2016, 00:00 by Elisabet Fernández-Rosas, Gemma Vilar, Gemma Janer, David González-Gálvez, Victor Puntes, Vincent Jamier, Laurent Aubouy, Socorro Vázquez-Campos
The incorporation of small amounts of nanofillers in polymeric matrices has enabled new applications in several industrial sectors. The nanofiller dispersion can be improved by modifying the nanomaterial (NM) surface or predispersing the NMs to enhance compatibility. This study evaluates the effect of these compatibilization strategies on migration/release of the nanofiller and transformation of polyamide-6 (PA6), a thermoplastic polymer widely used in industry during simulated outdoors use. Two nanocomposites (NCs) containing SiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) with different surface properties and two multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) NCs obtained by different addition methods were produced and characterized, before and after accelerated wet aging conditions. Octyl-modified SiO2 NPs, though initially more aggregated than uncoated SiO2 NPs, reduced PA6 hydrolysis and, consequently, NM release. Although no clear differences in dispersion were observed between the two types of MWCNT NCs (masterbatch vs direct addition) after manufacture, the use of the MWCNT masterbatch reduced PA6 degradation during aging, preventing MWCNT accumulation on the surface and further release or potential exposure by direct contact. The amounts of NM released were lower for MWCNTs (36 and 108 mg/m2) than for SiO2 NPs (167 and 730 mg/m2), being lower in those samples where the NC was designed to improve the nanofiller–matrix interaction. Hence, this study shows that optimal compatibilization between NM and matrix can improve NC performance, reducing polymer degradation and exposure and/or release of the nanofiller.