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A Green Approach for Preparing High-Loaded Sepiolite/Polymer Biocomposites

Global industry is showing a great interest in the field of sustainability owing to the increased attention for ecological safety and utilization of renewable materials. For the scientific community, the challenge lies in the identification of greener synthetic approaches for reducing the environmental impact. In this context, we propose the preparation of novel biocomposites consisting of natural rubber latex (NRL) and sepiolite (Sep) fibers through the latex compounding technique (LCT), an ecofriendly approach where the filler is directly mixed with a stable elastomer colloid. This strategy favors a homogeneous dispersion of hydrophilic Sep fibers in the rubber matrix, allowing the production of high-loaded sepiolite/natural rubber (Sep/NR) without the use of surfactants. The main physicochemical parameters which control Sep aggregation processes in the aqueous medium were comprehensively investigated and a flocculation mechanism was proposed. The uniform Sep distribution in the rubber matrix, characteristic of the proposed LCT, and the percolative filler network improved the mechanical performances of Sep/NR biocomposites in comparison to those of analogous materials prepared by conventional melt-mixing. These outcomes indicate the suitability of the adopted sustainable procedure for the production of high-loaded clay–rubber nanocomposites with remarkable mechanical features.

» Author: Barbara Di Credico

» Reference: doi: 10.3390/nano9010046

» Publication Date: 31/12/2018

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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [609203].

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