Processing of Polymer-Based Nanocomposites in Advanced Engineering and Military Application

Processing of Polymer-Based Nanocomposites in Advanced Engineering and Military Application

Francis Boluwaji Elehinafe (Covenant University, Nigeria) and Augustine Omoniyi Ayeni (Covenant University, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7838-3.ch001


This chapter gives an overview of polymer-based nanocomposites (PMNC), focusing on the processing. Polymers such as condensation polymers, vinyl polymers, polyolefins, specialty polymers including biodegradable are used in production of PMNC. It is the reinforcement that is in the nanorange size in nanocomposites generally. Reinforcements used are metal powders, silica, clays, and metal oxides. The most important methods of preparing PMNC are intercalation of the polymer or pre-polymer from solution, in-situ intercalative polymerization, melt intercalation, direct mixture of polymer and particulates, template synthesis, in-situ polymerization; and sol-gel process. The structure of polymer-based nanocomposites consists of the matrix material containing the nanosized reinforcement components in the forms of whiskers, particles, nanotubes, fibers, etc. It is clear that polymer-based nanocomposites provide many benefits such as improved properties, minimization of solid wastes films, and lower and improved manufacturing capabilities.
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Nanocomposites are, nowadays, regarded as high-performance engineering materials. They show uncommon combinations in terms of properties and unusual design possibilities. They have high growth rate and being demanded in elastomers and engineering plastics. Their possibilities to find applications in spheres of engineering are overwhelming. Nanocomposites are special materials that have one or more of their phases in the dimension of nanometre ranging from 1 nm to 10–9 m (Roy et al., 1986). Nanocomposites are now emerging as dependable alternatives to overcome limitations of microcomposites and monolithics, while offering preparation challenges akin to the manipulation of elements in their compositions of phases as well as their stoichiometry. It was reported by Schmidt et al. in 2002 that the general perception of the aforementioned properties are not reached yet, though the first inference on them was reported as early as 1992 by Gleiter.

In 1991 Iijima discovered carbon nanotubes abbreviated CNTs and their subsequent use to fabricate composites exhibiting some unique CNT related properties such as thermal electrical and mechanical (Weisenberger et al., 2003). The ease of incorporating CNTs into nanocomposite products made further ways for CNT-containing nanomaterials in terms of processing and subsequent applications as reported by Dalton et al. in 2003. Nanocomposites, nowadays, give advantages for all industrial sectors in area of manufacturing and business while the environment is compromised (Choa et al., 2003). Just like microcomposites, nanocomposites are categorized into Metal Matrix Nanocomposites (MMNC), Ceramic Matrix Nanocomposites (CMNC) and Polymer Matrix Nanocomposites (PMNC) (Fischer, 2003). Since the 1990s, nanocomposites have received extensive study, the number of publications increases systematic while seminars and conferences on the subject are undertaken frequently (Fischer, 2003).

Nanocomposites that polymer-based are nanomaterials with less than ten years of advent. It pointed out by Gangopadhyay and Amitabha, (2000) that the control of the conducting nanocomposites and the optimization of their physical properties, like colloidal stability and electrical conductivity, have not been accomplished, while both their commercial availability in the closer future and quantum leap for scientific research in materials are anticipated with their suitable usage. For polymer-based nanocomposites that are biodegradable, recent developments in preparation/processing, characterization, properties, crystallization behaviour and melt rheology, of the layered and the matrix polymer-based nanocomposites were discussed by Pandey et al., 2005; Ray and Bousmina, in 2005. Also, a focus on toughness and bonding (intrefacial one) between CNTs and polymer matrices is critically addressed by Andrew and Weisenberger (2004) to underscore the ability of the matrix to transfer stress and the potentials of these nanocomposites for possible CNT-polymer production on macro and nano scales. The work, on polymer-based nanocomposites and the ones with CNT reinforcements, is very limited.

An overview of polymer-based nanocomposites is given in this chapter, focusing on the processing. Also, the potential applications of polymer-based nanocomposites and the benefits they offer are also discussed.

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