AUTHOR: AYO, MARK DADA (PhD)
DEPARTMENT: Polymer and Textile Engineering
SCHOOL: School of Engineering and Engineering Technology (SEET)
AFFILIATION: Federal University of Technology Owerri
Physico-Mechanical properties of natural rubber filled with chemically modified groundnut shells were studied. Natural rubber composites were prepared using modified fillers at varying concentrations of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) Solution and acetylating solutions respectively. The processing conditions, mechanical properties and sorption characteristics of these composites were analyzed. The cure characteristics of the compounded rubber were determined using Mosanto Rheometer (model MDR – 2000). The maximum torque and crosslinking density increases with increase in concentration of the mercerizing and acetylating agent. The fibre reinforcing efficiency of the chemically treated composites were compared with that of the untreated composite. Composites containing chemically treated fillers were found to posses improved tensile properties(from 18.30 to 31.50MPa for acetylated composites and 18.30 -28.00MPa for mercerized fillers), hardness (48 to 65 IRHD for acetylated filler and 48 to 58 for mercerized fillers) and abrasion resistance (from 31.55 t0 42.50% for acetylated filler and 31.5 to 39.30 for mercerized filler). These properties increases with increase in mercerizing and acetylating agent up to 20% concentration and starts decreasing. At higher concentration, the fibre is destroyed hence reduction in properties. These results were in agreement with empirical analysis. The sorption properties of the composite also decrease with the concentration of the mercerizing and acetylating agent. The improved properties observed were as a result of the increase in affinity between the rubber matrix and the chemically treated groundnut shell fillers. From this research work, it is recommended that chemically treated groundnut shell powder, particularly at 20% concentration can be employed for articles such as shoe soles, footmats and hoses that require less stress during service life.
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