Ethylene-propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM) was functionalized with glycidyl methacrylate (GMA) during melt processing by free radical grafting with peroxide initiation in the presence and absence of a reactive comonomer trimethylolpropane triacrylate (Tris). Increasing the peroxide concentration resulted in an increase in the GMA grafting yield, albeit the overall grafting level was low and was accompanied by higher degree of crosslinking of EPDM which was found to be the major competing reaction. The presence of Tris in the grafting system gave rise to higher grafting yield produced at a much lower peroxide concentration though the crosslinking reactions remained high but without the formation of GMA-homopolymer in either of the two systems. The use of these functionalized EPDM (f-EPDM) samples with PET as compatibilisers in binary and ternary blends of PET/EPDM/f-EPDM was evaluated. The influence of the different functionalisation routes of the rubber phase (in presence and absence of Tris) and the effect of the level of functionality and microstructure of the resultant f-EPDM on the extent of the interfacial reaction, morphology and mechanical properties was also investigated. It is suggested that the mechanical properties of the blends are strongly influenced by the performance of the graft copolymer, which is in turn, determined by the level of functionality, molecular structure of the functionalized rubber and the interfacial concentration of the graft copolymer across the interface. The cumulative evidence obtained from torque rheometry, scanning electron microscopy, SEM, dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), tensile mechanical tests and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) supports this. It was shown that binary and ternary blends prepared with f-EPDM in the absence of Tris and containing lower levels of g-GMA effected a significant improvement in mechanical properties. This increase, particularly in elongation to break, could be accounted for by the occurrence of a reaction between the epoxy groups of GMA and the hydroxyl/carboxyl end groups of PET that would result in a graft copolymer which could, most probably, preferentially locate at the interface, thereby acting as an 'emulsifier' responsible for decreasing the interfacial tension between the otherwise two immiscible phases. This is supported by results from FTIR analysis of the fractionated PET phase of these blends which confirm the formation of an interfacial reaction, DMA results which show a clear shift in the T s of the blend components and SEM results which reveal very fine morphology, suggesting effective compatibilisation that is concomitant with the improvement observed in their tensile properties. Although Tris has given rise to highest amount of g-GMA, it resulted in lower mechanical properties than the optimized blends produced in the absence of Tris. This was attributed to the difference in the microstructure of the graft and the level of functionality in these samples resulting in less favourable structure responsible for the coarser dispersion of the rubber phase observed by SEM, the lower extent of T shift of the PET phase (DMA), the lower height of the torque curve during reactive blending and FTIR analysis of the separated PET phase that has indicated a lower extent of the interfacial chemical reaction between the phases in this Tris-containing blend sample.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Polymer Degradation and Stability|
|Early online date||1 Aug 2005|
|Publication status||Published - Nov 2005|
- reactive processing
- reactive blending
- PET/EPDM blends