Preparation of highly exfoliated polyester-clay nanocomposites: Process-property correlations

Hamid Dalir, Rouhollah D. Farahani, Vireya Nhim, Benjamin Samson, Martin Lévesque, Daniel Therriault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


A large number of polyester nanocomposite batches featuring different kinds of nanoclay surface modifiers and up to 6 wt % nanoclay were manufactured using a solvent-based technique. Montmorillonite platelets modified with ammonium ions of different chemical architectures were examined to study the effect of ammonium ions on the extent of surface reactions with long-chain fatty acids. The ammonium montmorillonite was first dispersed and suspended in acetone. This suspension was further esterificated with dotriacontanoic (lacceroic) acid to form high density brushes on the clay surface. This led to achieving higher basal plane spacing of the montmorillonite platelets due to the reduction of electrostatic interactions holding them. The outcome of the surface esterification was analyzed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The esterificated ammonium-modified clays were then mixed by five different mixing strategies based on the use of a three-roll mill mixer (TRM) and/or ultrasonication (US) to obtain the desired polyester-nanoclay dispersion, intercalation, and exfoliation. The dispersion states of the modified nanoclay in polymer were characterized from XRD, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and low and high magnification transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Mechanical, thermal, and barrier properties of the resulting composites were experimentally characterized. The Mori-Tanaka method along with an orientation distribution function was used to verify the experimental effective stiffness of the polyester nanocomposite systems. The aspect ratio of nanoclays and their level of intercalation and/or exfoliation after mixing were also confirmed by the comparison of the experimental diffusivity results with those of Fick's diffusion model. Systems having 4 and 6 wt % esterificated ammonium nanoclay and prepared according to a combined TRM/US mixing procedure showed optimal performance with balanced properties and processing ease, thereby showing potential for use in the automotive, transportation, and packaging industries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-803
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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