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Evaluation of Twin Screw Extrusion Compounding for Production of Small Particle Composites

Melt blended PE/fly-ash composites showed strong matrix-filler interaction which was manifested as the
composite strength increasing with the volume fraction of fly ash (Figures 68, 69). Such behaviour is
consistent with formation of a percolated network of well bonded filler-matrix interfacial regions which
are stronger than the bulk matrix. Twin screw extrusion (TSE) compounding is arguably a more effective
melt blending method than two roll milling; the residence time in TSE is shorter and unlike the two roll
mill, the melt is not open to the atmosphere. These factors reduce the level of melt oxidation. TSE is also
a continuous process and is therefore used for the commercial production of filled polymers.
Consequently, it was decided to TSE melt blend PE/fly-ash composites, Table 13 displays composite
compositions. Garnet and sand particles were considered too large and abrasive and the cenospheres
were considered too large and fragile to run through the extruder; breakage of the cenosphere particles
would risk the benefit of low density being lost. PE/fly-ash composites prepared by TSE and two roll
milling had the same tensile modulus versus fly-ash volume fraction characteristics when experimental
error is considered (Figure 72). The tensile stress at yield or failure (whichever came first) of PE/fly-ash
composites is also approximately identical for composites melt blended by TSE or the two roll mill, only
the TSE produced composite containing 115

55 % vol. fly-ash is stronger (Figure 73). The insignificant differences between melt blending by two roll
mill and TSE show that the level of filler dispersion obtained using the two methods is similar and
probably close to optimum, bearing in mind the spherical shape and large size of the fly-ash particles
relative to other fillers used in thermoplastics (e.g. talc and calcium carbonate). Differences in the extent
of degradation of the matrix in the fly-ash composites are also insignificant despite the two roll mill
blending process being open to atmospheric oxygen.