Effects of bleaching and functionalization of kaolinite on the mechanical and thermal properties of polyamide 6 nanocomposites
Polyamide 6 nanocomposites (PA6)/kaolinite were prepared by melt compounding. First, kaolinite was bleached via a solvothermal reaction using oxalic acid as a bleaching agent; then, the bleached product was modified using dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) and subsequently methanol (MeOH) via a displacement method. Thus, cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB) and triethoxy(octyl)silane (TEOS) molecules were intercalated into kaolinite nano-platelets. Seven types of nanocomposites were prepared using pristine, bleached or intercalated kaolinite. The kaolinite powder and the nanocomposite specimens were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transformation infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermal analysis, scanning electronic microscopy (SEM), whiteness index and tensile tests. The influence of the bleaching process of kaolinite and the intercalation methods on the whiteness index of the nanocomposites was also observed, in which the whiteness index of the functionalized kaolinite nanocomposites was enhanced by up to 10.65% when compared to neat PA6. The thermal results revealed that the intercalation and functionalization greatly affect the thermal stability of the virgin polymer. On the other hand, the intercalation of kaolinite enhances the dispersion/distribution, improves the interfacial adhesion, and increases the aspect ratio of the kaolinite nanoparticles; this affords remarkable nanocomposite property enhancements, represented by a high Young's modulus value of 4.68 GPa and a maximum percentage growth of 80.6% for silane-grafted kaolinite nanoparticles at just 8 wt%.