Novel, synergistic composites of polypropylene and rice husk ash: Sustainable resource hybrids prepared by solid-state shear pulverization

Krishnan A. Iyer, John M. Torkelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rice husk ash (RHA) is an agrowaste byproduct resulting from the incineration of rice husks for power production; white RHA is ∼90 wt% or more silica, which makes it a potentially sustainable and inexpensive substitute for commercial (less "green") silica filler. Past research on polypropylene (PP)-RHA hybrids made by melt processing has yielded modest increments in Young's modulus, reduced yield strength, and drastic reductions in elongation at break relative to neat PP. Using the industrially scalable solid-state shear pulverization (SSSP) process, PP-RHA hybrids are made with 4-38 wt% RHA. As determined by microscopy and other methods, composites made by SSSP have much better RHA dispersion than composites reported in the literature made by twin-screw extrusion. The superior dispersion leads to major enhancements in tensile modulus (up to 100% increases relative to neat PP) while maintaining the yield strength of neat PP and remarkably high values of elongation at break (e.g., 520% at 19 wt% RHA), far higher than composites made by melt processing. The properties of hybrids made by SSSP are competitive with and in some cases superior to those of PP hybrids made with commercial silica. The PP-RHA hybrids also exhibit major increases in hardness, approaching that of polycarbonate in the case of a 38 wt% RHA hybrid. The 38 wt% RHA hybrid exhibits solid-like rheology at low frequency. Nevertheless, all PP-RHA hybrids made by SSSP exhibit viscosities at moderate to high shear rates that are little changed from that of neat PP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1211-1221
Number of pages11
JournalPolymer Composites
Volume34
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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