In this study, the thermal degradation behavior of polypropylene (PP) and PP–zeolite composites was investigated. Clinoptilolite, a natural zeolitic tuff, was used as the filler material in composites. The effects of both pure clinoptilolite and silver-ion-exchanged clinoptilolite on the thermal degradation kinetics of the PP composites was studied with differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Polymer degradation was evaluated with DSC at heating rates of 5, 10, and 20°C/min from room temperature to 500°C. The silver concentration (4.36, 27.85, and 183.8 mg of Ag/g of zeolite) was the selected parameter under consideration. From the DSC curves, we observed that the heat of degradation values of the composites containing 2–6% silver-exchanged zeolite (321–390 kJ/kg) were larger than that of the pure PP (258 kJ/kg). From the DSC results, we confirmed that the PP–zeolite composites can be used at higher temperatures than the pure PP polymer because of its higher thermal stability. The thermal decomposition activation energies of the composites were calculated with both the Kissinger and Ozawa models. The values predicted from these two equations were in close agreement. From the TGA curves, we found that zeolite addition into the PP matrix slowed the decomposition reaction; however, silver-exchanged zeolite addition into the matrix accelerated the reaction. The higher the silver concentration was, the lower were the thermal decomposition activation energies we obtained. As a result, PP was much more susceptible to thermal decomposition in the presence of silver-exchanged zeolite. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 101: 143–148, 2006
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