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The effect of interfacial interactions on the mechanical properties of polypropylene/natural zeolite composites
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The effect of interfacial interactions on the mechanical properties of polypropylene (PP)/natural zeolite composites was investigated under dry and wet conditions. Interfacial interactions were modified to improve filler compatibility and mechanical properties of the composites by surface treatment of natural zeolite with a non-ionic surface modifier; 3 wt% polyethylene glycol (PEG) and three different types of silane coupling agents; 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (AMPTES), methyltriethoxysilane (MTES) and 3-mercaptopropyltrimethoxysilane (MPTMS), at four different concentrations (0.5-2 wt%). PP composites containing (2-6 wt%) zeolite were prepared by an extrusion technique. The tensile properties of the composites determined as a function of the filler loading and the concentration of the coupling agents were found to vary with surface treatment of zeolite. Silane treatment indicated significant improvements in the mechanical properties of the composites. According to the dry and wet tensile test results, the maximum improvement in the mechanical properties was obtained for the PP composites containing 1 wt% AMPTES treated zeolite. The improvement in the interfacial interaction was confirmed using a semi-empirical equation developed by Pukanszky. Good agreement was obtained between experimental data and the Pukanszky model prediction. Scanning electron microscopy studies also revealed better dispersion of silane treated filler particles in the PP matrix.