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All issues / Volume 5 (2011) / Issue 7 (July)

Rice husk: Turning wastes into wealth
Z. A. Mohd Ishak
Vol. 5., No.7., Pages 569-569, 2011
DOI: 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2011.55
This is an editorial article. It has no abstract.
Phase diagrams in blends of poly(3-hydroxybutyric acid) with various aliphatic polyesters
Y. T. Hsieh, E. M. Woo
Vol. 5., No.7., Pages 570-580, 2011
DOI: 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2011.56
Phase behavior with immiscibility, miscibility, crystalline morphology, and kinetic analysis in blends of poly(3-hydroxybutyric acid) (PHB) with aliphatic polyesters such as poly(butylene adipate) (PBA), poly(ethylene adipate) (PEA), poly(trimethylene adipate) (PTA), or poly(ethylene succinate) (PESu), respectively, were explored mainly using differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) and polarized-light optical microscopy (POM). Immiscibility phase behavior with reversible upper-critical-solution-temperature (UCST) is common in the PHB/polyester blends. The polyester/polyester blend of PHB/PTA is partially miscible with no UCST in melt and amorphous glassy states within a composition range of PTA less than 50 wt%. The miscible crystalline/crystalline blend exhibits ring-banded spherulites at Tc = 50~100°C, with inter-ring spacing dependent on Tc. All immiscible or partially miscible PHB/polyester blends, by contrast, exhibit disrupted ringbanded spherulites or discrete spherical phase domains upon cooling from UCST to crystallization. The blends of PHB with all other aliphatic polyesters, such as PESu, PEA, PBA, etc. are only partially miscible or immiscible with an upper critical solution temperature (UCST) at 180~221°C depending on blend composition. UCST with reversibility was verified.
The effects of particle size and content on the thermal conductivity and mechanical properties of Al2O3/high density polyethylene (HDPE) composites
S. Zhang, X. Y. Cao, Y. M. Ma, Y. C. Ke, J. K. Zhang, F. S. Wang
Vol. 5., No.7., Pages 581-590, 2011
DOI: 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2011.57
The influences of filler size and content on the properties (thermal conductivity, impact strength and tensile strength) of Al2O3/high density polyethylene (HDPE) composites are studied. Thermal conductivity and tensile strength of the composites increase with the decrease of particle size. The dependence of impact strength on the particle size is more complicated. The SEM micrographs of the fracture surface show that Al2O3 with small particle size is generally more efficient for the enhancement of the impact strength, while the 100 nm particles prone to aggregation due to their high surface energy deteriorate the impact strength. Composite filled with Al2O3 of 0.5 µm at content of 25 vol% show the best synthetic properties. It is suggested that the addition of nano-Al2O3 to HDPE would lead to good performance once suitably dispersed.
Enhancement of mechanical properties of poly(vinyl chloride) with polymethyl methacrylate-grafted halloysite nanotube
C. Liu, Y. F. Luo, Z. X. Jia, B. C. Zhong, S. Q. Li, B. C. Guo, D. M. Jia
Vol. 5., No.7., Pages 591-603, 2011
DOI: 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2011.58
Halloysite nanotubes(HNTs) grafted with Polymethyl methacrylate(PMMA) were synthesized via radical polymerization. The properties of PMMA-grafted HNTs were characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The results showed that PMMA grafted to the surfaces of HNTs successfully. Then, PVC/PMMA-grafted HNTs nanocomposites were prepared by melt compounding. The morphology, mechanical properties and thermal properties of the nanocomposites were investigated. PMMA-grafted HNTs can effectively improve the toughness, strength and modulus of PVC. The glass transition and thermal decomposition temperatures of PVC phase in PVC/PMMA-grafted HNTs nanocomposites are shifted toward slightly higher temperatures. The grafted HNTs were uniformly dispersed in PVC matrix as revealed by TEM photos. The fracture surfaces of the nanocomposites exhibited plastic deformation feature indicating ductile fracture behaviors. The improvement of toughness of PVC by PMMA-grafted HNTs was attributed to the improved interfacial bonding by grafting and the toughening mechanism was explained according to the cavitation mechanism.
Polyol mediated nano size zinc oxide and nanocomposites with poly(methyl methacrylate)
A. Anzlovar, K. Kogej, Z. Crnjak Orel, M. Zigon
Vol. 5., No.7., Pages 604-619, 2011
DOI: 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2011.59
Organophilic nano ZnO particles have been synthesized in various diols (ethylene glycol – EG, 1,2 propane diol – PD, 1,4 butane diol – BD and tetra(ethylene glycol) – TEG) in the presence of p-toluenesulfonic acid, p-TsOH, as an end capping agent. The addition of p-TsOH reduces the ZnO particle size and increases its crystallite size. With increasing diol main chain length the ZnO particle size increases (EG (32 nm) < PD (33 nm) < BD (72 nm) < TEG (86 nm)). Using the assynthesized and unmodified ZnO nanocomposites with poly(methyl methacrylate), PMMA, matrix have been prepared by the in-situ bulk polymerization of methyl methacrylate, MMA. The addition of surface modifiers is avoided which is an advantage for the application since they can influence other properties of the material. ZnO particles, especially those with smaller particle sizes (EG – 32 nm, PD – 33 nm) showed enhanced effect on the thermal stability of PMMA, ultraviolet, UV, absorption and transparency for visible light. Transparent materials with high UV absorption and with enhanced resistance to sunlight were obtained by optimizing the nanocomposite preparation procedure using ZnO particles of about 30 nm size in concentrations between 0.05 and 0.1 wt%. The reported nanocomposite preparation procedure is compatible with the industrial process of PMMA sheet production.
Isolation and recovery of microbial polyhydroxyalkanoates
B. Kunasundari, K. Sudesh
Vol. 5., No.7., Pages 620-634, 2011
DOI: 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2011.60
The deleterious environmental impacts caused by plastic wastes have attracted worldwide concern. The biobased and biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) appears to be one of the potential candidates to replace some conventional plastics. However, high production cost of PHAs has limited their market penetration. The major cost absorbing factors are the upstream fermentation processes and the downstream PHA recovery technologies. The latter significantly affects the overall process economics. Various recovery technologies have been proposed and studied in small scales in the laboratory as well as in industrial scales. These include solvent extraction, chemical digestion, enzymatic treatment and mechanical disruption, supercritical fluid disruption, flotation techniques, use of gamma irradiation and aqueous two-phase system. This paper reviews all the recovery methods known to date and compares their efficiency and the quality of the resulting PHA. Some of the large-scale production of PHA and the strategies employed to reduce the production cost are also discussed.
Studies on single polymer composites of poly(methyl methacrylate) reinforced with electrospun nanofibers with a focus on their dynamic mechanical properties
K. P. Matabola, A. R. de Vries, A. S. Luyt, R. Kumar
Vol. 5., No.7., Pages 635-642, 2011
DOI: 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2011.61
The dynamic mechanical properties of single polymer composites of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) reinforced with electrospun PMMA nanofibers of different diameters are reported. The effect of electrospinning parameters on the morphology and diameters of the electrospun high molecular weight PMMA was investigated in order to obtain suitable diameters for the reinforcing fibers. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to study the morphology and diameters of the nanofibers produced at different electrospinning conditions. It was found that polymer solution concentration influences the diameter of the electrospun nanofibers more than the spinning voltage and spinning distance. SEM analysis of the PMMA nanofibers showed that the fibers had a smooth, regular and cylindrical morphology with no beads and junctions. Effects of the processing temperature for the preparation of the single polymer composites via film stacking were investigated. Dynamic mechanical analysis showed a pronounced improvement in the storage modulus of the composites compared to the matrix.
Hollow fibers made from a poly(3-hydroxybutyrate)/poly-ε-caprolactone blend
C. Hinuber, L. Haussler, R. Vogel, H. Brunig, G. Heinrich, C. Werner
Vol. 5., No.7., Pages 643-652, 2011
DOI: 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2011.62
Since poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) is inherently brittle and possesses poor elastic properties, hollow fibers produced by melt spinning from pure PHB, as described in our earlier study [Macromolecular Materials and Engineering, 2010, 295/6, 585–594], do not meet the required needs regarding the mechanical performance. Besides hardly available PHB copolymers, also blend systems are known to enhance material properties and have thus been considered to be eligible to fabricate flexible or rather pliable hollow fibers based on PHB. Blends of PHB and poly-!-caprolactone (PCL) are promising for the application in tissue engineering due to the inherent biocompatibility and biodegradability. A wide range of PHB/PCL compositions have been prepared by melt extrusion. Thermal and mechanical properties of the obtained specimens were analyzed in order to identify miscibility and degree of dispersion as well as to determine the influence on the overall mechanical performance. Even though these constituents are known to be immiscible, PHB/PCL 70/30 was proven to be an adequate composition. This blend showed a highly increased elongation and was found to be easily processable by melt spinning compared to pure PHB. From this blend well defined dimensionally stable bendable hollow fibers were fabricated.
Development and characterization of epoxy syntactic foam filled with epoxy hollow spheres
S. S. Samsudin, Z. M. Ariff, Z. Zakaria, A. A. Bakar
Vol. 5., No.7., Pages 653-660, 2011
DOI: 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2011.63
The present study focuses on the development and characterization of epoxy syntactic foam filled with epoxy hollow spheres (ESF/EHoS). The epoxy syntactic foam (ESF) was produced by embedding epoxy hollow spheres (EHoS) into a mixture of epoxy-hardener and 3% KOH solution. An innovative approach and simple procedure was implemented in the preparation of the EHoS where expanded polystyrene (EPS) beads were used as initiation material. The EPS beads were coated with the epoxy resin and these coated EPS beads were later cured and post-cured at high temperature which will also shrink the EPS beads thus producing a hollow structure. The physical and compressive properties of the developed ESF were characterized. The progressive collapse of the syntactic foam was monitored in real-time with respect to percentage of strain during a compression test. Results also indicated that the (ESF/EHoS) showed similar deformation pattern with other types of syntactic foams which exhibited the common three regions of deformations.
Published by:

Budapest University of Technology and Economics,
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Polymer Engineering