Ferric Ions Crosslinked Epoxidized Natural Rubber Filled with Carbon Nanotubes and Conductive Carbon Black Hybrid Fillers
Natural rubber with 50 mol % epoxidation (ENR-50) was filled with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and conductive carbon black (CCB) hybrid fillers with various CCB loadings of 2.5, 5.0, 7.0, 10.0 and 15.0 phr, and the compounds were mixed with ferric ion (Fe3+) as a crosslinking agent. The ENRs filled exclusively with CNTs, and CNT–CCB hybrid fillers exhibited typical curing curves at different CCB loadings, i.e., increasing torque with time and thus crosslinked networks. Furthermore, the incorporation of CNT–CCB hybrid fillers and increasing CCB loadings caused an enhancement of tensile properties (modulus and tensile strength) and crosslink densities, which are indicated by the increasing torque difference and the crosslink densities. The crosslink densities are determined by swelling and temperature scanning stress relaxation (TSSR). Increasing CCB loadings also caused a significant improvement in bound rubber content, filler–rubber interactions, thermal resistance, glass transition temperature (Tg) and electrical conductivity. A combination of 7 phr CNT and CCB with loading higher than 2.5 phr gave superior properties to ENR vulcanizates. Furthermore, the secondary CCB filler contributes to the improvement of CNT dispersion in the ENR matrix by networking the CNT capsules and forming CNT–CCB–CNT pathways and thus strong CNT–CCB networks, indicating the improvement in the tensile properties, bound rubber content and dynamic properties of the ENR composites. Moreover, higher electrical conductivity with a comparatively low percolation threshold of the hybrid composites was found as compared to the ENR filled with CNTs without CCB composite. The superior mechanical and other properties are due to the finer dispersion and even distribution of CNT–CCB hybrid fillers in the ENR matrix.