• supercritical carbon dioxide;
  • maleated polypropylene;
  • organoclay


Supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) has been proposed as an effective exfoliating agent for the preparation of polymer-layered silicate nanocomposites, though there is limited fundamental understanding of this mechanism. This study looks at the interactions of this unique green solvent with three maleated polypropylenes of varying anhydride content and molecular size with an alkyl-ammonium organoclay. Mixtures of compatibilizers and organoclay were melt-annealed in a high pressure batch vessel at 200°C and subjected to either a blanket of nitrogen or scCO2 at a pressure of 9.7 MPa. The structures and properties of these melt-annealed mixtures were characterized by X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, and contact angle measurement. The results indicate that the plasticizing influence of scCO2 aided intercalation and exfoliation for intercalants of moderate molecular size and anhydride content which would otherwise have limited diffusion into the clay galleries. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011