The dispersion behavior of different carbon black grades was investigated in a common elastomer matrix under shear using a transparent plate-and-plate counter-rotating shear cell coupled with an optical microscope. The objective was to investigate the effect of carbon black intrinsic characteristics (specific area and structure) on dispersion mechanisms. Shear conditions were selected to study independently erosion and rupture mechanisms. The independent study of rupture and erosion mechanisms brings new findings on the respective effect of the filler intrinsic characteristics on each mechanism: (a) Rupture is a sudden mechanism occurring above a critical shear stress, which depends on the pellet size. The rupture criterion appears not to depend on the carbon black specific area or the structure. (b) Erosion proceeds via the detachment of a fixed eroded volume per strain unit and is driven by the applied shear stress and strain. Erosion is a local mechanism. The erosion rate depends on the carbon black characteristics. Faster erosion was measured for a carbon black with a higher structure at equivalent specific area or with a lower specific area at equivalent structure. This in situ characterization of dispersion mechanisms highlights that the effect of the carbon black characteristics on the two main dispersion mechanisms (rupture and erosion) is completely different. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013
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