JOURNAL OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS, vol.51, no.14, pp.1987-1996, 2017 (SCI-Expanded)
Carbon nanotube-reinforced polyurethane elastomer composites were prepared by melt-mixing. Nitric acid oxidation and silanization were applied to carbon nanotube surfaces to achieve better interfacial interactions with polyurethane elastomer. Tensile and hardness tests, differential scanning calorimetry, melt flow index test, dielectric measurements, and morphological studies of composites were reported. The best results were obtained for surface-modified carbon nanotubes containing composites with lower loading levels. Addition of carbon nanotubes leads to almost two-fold increase in strain and modulus compared to pristine polyurethane elastomer. Tensile strength of composites was also improved by inclusion of carbon nanotubes. However, strength values drop down with increasing carbon nanotube content. Shore hardness increased with the inclusion of modified carbon nanotube to polyurethane elastomer while pristine carbon nanotube caused remarkable decrease in hardness of polyurethane elastomer. Relatively higher melting points and slightly lower glass transition temperatures were observed for carbon nanotube-loaded composites compared to polyurethane elastomer because of plasticizing effect of carbon nanotube. Incorparation of carbon nanotube to polyurethane elastomer matrix caused reduction in melt flow index values due to formation of agglomarates, and n the contrary, surface modifications of carbon nanotube exhibited increase in melt flow index thanks to enhanced interfacial interactions between carbon nanotube and polyurethane elastomer. Significant increase in dielectric constant of composites was observed. Better dispersion of surface modified carbon nanotubes into polyurethane elastomer was also concluded from SEM micrographs of composites.