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Properties of calcium carbonate filled and unfilled polystyrene foams prepared using supercritical carbon dioxide



Foaming behaviors of four polystyrenes (PSs) filled and unfilled with various amounts of CaCO3 using supercritical carbon dioxide were investigated. The PSs include three general purpose grades with different molecular weights (different melt index) and one high impact grade. By adjusting foaming conditions, foam density was determined for each investigated sample. In general, the sample with a lower molecular weight (i.e. higher melt index) yielded a lower foam density for the three general purpose PSs. With the addition of CaCO3 filler, foam density would increase. The inclusion of rubber in high impact PS was found to complicate its foaming behavior. A qualitative correlation between various types of filled/unfilled PSs and foam density was found in a certain range. An optimum foaming temperature range was required to obtain low foam density for each sample. The corresponding change in matrix modulus by employing various PSs and various filler contents apparently affected the resulting foam density. Although several factors were involved in foaming conditions, the addition of CaCO3 filler played a significant role in reducing cell size and increasing cell density of the PSs foams investigated. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 102: 2276–2284, 2006