Thermoplastic elastomers based on recycled plastics and waste tires

Authors: Fazli, Ali
Advisor: Rodrigue, Denis
Abstract: This work developed an innovative approach of tire recycling through the application of waste tire rubber and textile fiber as reinforcements for the production of fully recycled thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), compounds turning wastes into added-value materials. An experimental optimization was performed to develop a specific phase morphology and achieve balanced physical, mechanical, and thermal properties of TPE based on recycled materials. In the first part, ground rubber tire (GTR) from regenerated rubber (RR) and non-regenerated rubber (NRR) based on off-the-road (OTR) tires were melt blended (twin-screw extrusion) with recycled high-density polyethylene (rHDPE) to investigate the effect of rubber regeneration and composition on the processability, phase morphology and properties of highly filled TPE containing up to 90 wt.% GTR. Inclusion of RR into rHDPE contributed to better flowability and processability because of higher chain mobility and particle deformability compared to NR particles. Despite decreasing tensile strength and tensile modulus with rubber content (stress concentration points), the elongation at break and impact strength increased which was attributed to the presence of a more elastic phase content and higher energy absorption through the deformation of rubbery particles retarding fracture. In the second part, TPE blends based on recycled thermoplastic were prepared via melt blending to study the effect of GRT particle size (0–250 μm, 250–500 μm and 500–850 μm) and content (0, 20, 35, 50 and 65 wt.%). The results revealed that for a fixed blend composition, smaller GTR particles (0–250 μm) gave higher tensile properties and toughness compared to larger particles because of higher specific surface area (higher value and better contact) between small GTR particles and the matrix promoting interfacial interaction. However, smaller particles had a negligible effect on mechanical strength at higher GTR content (above 50 wt.%) since incompatibility and poor interphase quality played a more significant role. In the next step, different types of regenerated recycled rubbers (RR₁ and RR₂) were used to produce highly filled TPE blends (over 70 wt.%). Strong entanglement between RR₂ (regeneration degree of 24%) free chains and the thermoplastic macromolecules contributed to strong interfacial interaction, leading to high mechanical properties. The introduction of a recycled ethylene-vinyl acetate (rEVA) copolymer improved the elongation at break and impact strength by 27% and 11% respectively, via encapsulation of the rubber phase by the elastomer copolymer (10 wt.%) forming a thick/soft interphase decreasing interfacial stress concentration slowing down fracture. In the last part, a masterbatch based on maleic anhydride grafted polyethylene (MAPE)/RR (70/30) was used for impact modification and compatibilization of recycled TPE composites reinforced with recycled tire fiber (RTF). The addition of surface coated RR with the coupling agent delayed crack initiation/propagation by forming a thick/soft interphase decreasing interfacial stress concentration slowing down fracture. Encapsulation of the rubber phase by MAPE provided an efficient method for waste tire recycling (rubber and fibers) by producing toughened TPE composites with acceptable mechanical properties. Overall, the results obtained in this project open the door for further development of waste tires recycling via the production of environmentally friendly, cost effective and added-value TPE compounds for several industrial applications like automotive, packaging and civil engineering.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2021
Open Access Date: 10 January 2022
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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