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Keywords:

  • nanocomposites;
  • organoclay;
  • natural rubber;
  • epoxidized natural rubber;
  • silica;
  • carbon black

Abstract

Onium modified montmorillonite (organoclay) was compounded with natural rubber (NR) in an internal mixer and cured by using a conventional sulfuric system. Epoxidized natural rubber with 50 mol % epoxidation (ENR 50) in 10 parts per hundred rubber (phr) was used as a compatibilizer in this study. For comparison purposes, two commercial fillers: carbon black (grade N330) and silica (grade vulcasil-S) were used. Cure characteristics were carried out on a Monsanto MDR2000 Rheometer. Organoclay filled vulcanizate showed the lowest values of torque maximum, torque minimum, scorch, and cure times. The kinetics of cure reaction showed organoclay could behave as a cocuring agent. The mechanical testing of the vulcanizates involved the determination of tensile and tear properties. The improvement of tensile strength, elongation at break, and tear properties in organoclay filled vulcanizate were significantly higher compared to silica and carbon black filled vulcanizates. In terms of reinforcing efficiency (RE), organoclay exhibited the highest stiffness followed by silica and carbon black filled vulcanizates. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that incorporation of various types of fillers has transformed the failure mechanism of the resulting NR vulcanizates compared to the gum vulcanizates. Dynamic mechanical thermal analysis (DMTA) revealed that the stiffness and molecular relaxation of NR vulcanizates are strongly affected by the filler–rubber interactions. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 94: 2438–2445, 2004