The effect of maleic anhydride grafting efficiency on the flexural properties of polyethylene composites

M. A. Gunning, O. M. Istrate, L. M. Geever, J. G. Lyons, P. Blackie, B. Chen, C. L. Higginbotham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Many authors have reported on the property enhancements possible by compounding high density polyethylene (HDPE) with fillers to produce composites. It is accepted that polyethylene combined with materials such as nanoclay or wood flour will not yield favorable properties unless a compatibilizing material is used to form a link. In this work, compatibilized HDPE was produced by grafting maleic anhydride (MA) to its backbone in a twin screw extruder using a peroxide initiated reactive process. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used to examine the effects of varying peroxide and MA levels on the grafting percentage and it was found that a high percentage could be achieved. The gel content of each HDPE-g-MA batch was determined and twin bore rheometry analysis was carried out to examine the effects of crosslinking and MA grafting on the melt viscosity. These HDPE-g-MA compatibilizers were subsequently compounded with nanoclay and wood flour to produce composites. The composite materials were tested using a three point bending apparatus to determine the flexural modulus and strength and were shown to have favorable mechanical properties when compared with composites containing no compatibilizer. X-ray diffraction (XRD) was used to examine the effects of grafted MA content on the intercalation and exfoliation levels of nanoclay composites. The results from XRD scans showed that increased intercalation in polymer nanoclay composites was achieved by increasing the grafted MA content. This was confirmed using a scanning electron microscope, where images produced showed increased levels of dispersion and reductions in nanoclay agglomerates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4799-4808
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Polymer Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2012


  • compatibilization
  • composites
  • compounding
  • extrusion
  • functionalization of polymers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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