Purification of bentonite clays and their modification with two thermally stable (alkyl and aryl) phosphonium organic salts were investigated. The organoclays were subsequently melt compounded with Polyamide 66 (PA66), with and without the use of an elastomeric compatibilizer. The morphology, melt flow, thermal stability, and mechanical properties of the binary and ternary nanocomposites were studied. The bentonite clay was purified by sedimentation, resulting in higher cation exchange capacity and thermal stability in comparison with unpurified clay. These were then used in the synthesis of two thermally stable organoclays by replacing the interlayer sodium cations with two (alkyl and aryl) phosphonium surfactant cations to circumvent the problem of low temperature decomposition of quaternary ammonium organoclays usually used in polymer nanocomposites. The organoclay with aliphatic groups showed more compatibility with PA66 in comparison with the organoclay with aromatic groups. Thus, the use of organoclay with aliphatic groups resulted in nanocomposites with higher tensile strength, higher modulus, higher elongation at break, and higher impact strength in comparison with the nanocomposites produced from the organoclay with aromatic groups. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013
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