Water-based suspension of polymer nanoclay composite prepared via miniemulsion polymerization
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The polymer-clay nanocomposites, when applied as coating materials, are expected to improve the barrier properties without sacrificing mechanical and thermal properties, and thus solve one of the most challenging problems existing in current food and beverage packaging using paper barrier coating. Furthermore, a stable polymer composite suspension in an aqueous form has many other advantages such as better environmental concern, easier manipulation and better energy saving. However, the research in this area is quite limited in the literature. In this research, a stable water-based suspension of polymer-encapsulated nanoclay composite has been successfully synthesized. The polymer nanocomposites, which encapsulate the exfoliated and well-dispersed nanoclay inside the polymer matrix, can dramatically improve almost all the aspects of mechanical properties and thermal stability in comparison with that of pure polystyrene (PS) and polystyrene butyl acrylate (PSBA) films. The particle size of nanoclay and the surface modification method are two important factors for emulsion stability, the encapsulation and intercalation (or exfoliated) degree of nanoclay. Furthermore, the impact of nanoclay on miniemulsion kinetics has been extensively investigated and the results show the hindrance of nanoclay on styrene miniemulsion polymerization kinetics.