Hopes Beyond PET Recycling: Environmentally Clean and Engineeringly Applicable
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Disposal of plastics in the environment has become a core of anxiety in developing countries, while in the developed countries the focus has additionally been placed on design and manufacture of emerging products from plastic wastes—a somewhat vague yet promising horizon. Central to environmental concerns are poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) wastes, mainly from post-consumer bottles. Because of a considerable drop in molecular weight in the course of recycling, recycled PETs are not suitable for engineering uses. An efficient yet reasonably green synthesis route is employed here to convert PET wastes into polyurethane, and then carbon nanotubes (CNTs) was added at different levels to obtain nanocomposites with high mechanical properties. The effects of isocyanate (NCO)/hydroxyl (OH) molar ratio and CNTs content on the morphology, physical and mechanical properties were discussed. Chemical/physical crosslink density was calculated from initial slope of stress–strain curves, Mooney–Rivlin plots, strain-hardening modulus, rubbery-plateau storage modulus and swelling data. High tensile strength (300 MPa) and breaking elongation (160%) of polyurethane/CNTs nanocomposites born from PET wastes seemed promising. Microscopic analyses by AFM, SEM, and TEM gave useful information about distribution of CNTs in polyurethane. Lastly, structural changes were correlated to mechanical properties improvement.
KeywordsNanocomposites PET waste Polyurethane CNTs Recycling