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Recycled polymer composites from mixed polymer blends and graphene oxide

Meadows, Tyler Wayne
Plastics have become a regular staple of our everyday life, and while being convenient, also has an undesirable effect on the environment. When plastic waste is deposited into the MSW stream, it does not easily degrade. To reduce their environmental impact, recycling needs to be efficient without compromising the recycled material’s properties. Current recycling methods require the different types of plastic (#1 – 7) to be sorted to maintain the plastic’s uniform material properties.
Combining various types of plastic to create blends with decent material properties could be ideal. This research examines the material properties of polymer blend combinations of recycled HDPE & PP with compatibilizers and graphene oxide. Compatibilizers are used to improve miscibility between polymers. Blends with graphene oxide (GO) were also evaluated as a means to improve blend properties. Polymer blends were extruded through an extruder to form filaments. Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA), Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and tensile testing were used to evaluate and compare the different blends.
The determination of the current study is that blending immiscible polymers, with GO filler, can maintain decent material properties with improved strain at low GO concentrations. The new recycled polymer nanocomposite also exhibits reduced stiffness and increased glass transition temperatures, which could make it more attractive to certain industries.