|Title of Invention||
MODIFIED POLYMER MATERIALS INCORPORATING BOEHMITE PARTICLES AND NOVEL BOEHMITE PARTICLES
|Abstract||This invention relates to a modified polymer material having a polymer base and needle-shaped boehmite particles dispersed therein. The needle-shaped particles have an aspect ratio of at least 3: I wherein aspect ratio is the ratio of the longest dimension to the next largest dimension. Boehmite particles having the above I specified needle shape are novel.|
|Full Text||Field of the Invention
 The present invention concerns particles of boehmite and particularly to boehmite particles that are particularly adapted to use as fillers for thermoplastic resins.
Description of the Related Art
(021 Boehmite has long been recognized as a suitable filler for thermoplastic resins in view of the fine particle size and the relative inertness to the polymer in which it is dispersed. It produces good improvements in modulus and thermal behavior and has even been proposed as a flame retardant in USP 6,143,816.
 The preferred form as recited in a number of US Patents such as USP 5,360,680 and 5,401,703 is that of fine flakes which were felt to be preferable since earlier fine grained boehmite powders produced by a milling process tended to be globular which is less effective as a filler material. Other methods of making fine boehmite particles caused other problems. For example pyrolysis tends to produce a range of contaminants of the boehmite product and conventional hydrothermal treatments tend to produce tight agglomerates of rhombic prisms which are not easily separated. Refined hydrothermal treatments of aluminum hydroxides such as that of USP 5,194,243, (which buih on earlier work described in USPP 2,763,620; 2,915,475; 3,385,663; 4,117,105; and 4,344,928), introduced the concept of seeding the conversion of the boehmite pre-cursor using boehmite seeds. This was found to require a high level of seeding to be effective using at least 15% of boehmite seed in order to produce a sub-micron boehmite dispersion with essentially equiaxed particles.
 All such efforts produced flaky or equiaxed particles of boehmite which did not readily disperse as individual particles in a polymer unless previously treated with a surface active agent designed to enhance such dispersibility. Typical surface active agents used include amino-silanes which have the capability of bonding to the hydrophilic surfaces of the particles giving them a surface more compatible with the organic polymer in
which they were to be dispersed. This avoided the clumping that tended to occur without such a treatment. This tendency becomes greater with decreasing size of the particles because of the increasing surface energy that naturally occurs with diminishing size.
 The present invention provides a novel form of boehmite that can be readily dispersed in a thermoplastic polymer at the nano-particle level without the need for any surface :reatment and which provide a significantly improved blend of properties by ;omparison with the prior art boehmite filler materials.
 According to one aspect of the present invention, a modified polymer material is provided, which includes a polymer base and boehmite particles provided in the polymer base, the boehmite particles comprising mainly anisotropically shaped particles having an aspect ratio of at least about 3:1.
 According to another aspect of the present invention, a modified polymer material is provided, which includes a polymer base and boehmite particles free of surface agents and being dispersed in the polymer base.
 According to another aspect of the present invention, a boehmite material is provided, having mainly boehmite particles having an aspect ratio of at least about 3:1.
 According to another aspect of the present invention, a method for forming a product is provided, including providing a modified polymer material having a polymer base and boehmite particles containing mainly anisotropically shaped particles having an aspect ratio of at least about 3:1, and extruding the modified polymer material to form an extruded product, wherein the boehmite particles are dispersed in the extruded product.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
(10) Figures lA and IB show prior art finely dispersed boehmite particles (Figure lA) and needle-shaped boehmite according to the invention (Figure IB).
Ill) Figures 2A, 2B and 2C show the UV-visible Spectra of: Nylon 6 alone and with two different levels of boehmite incorporation.
(12] Figures 3A, 3B and 3C are Fourier Transform IR spectra of the three formulations for which the UV spectra are given in Figures 2A, 2B and 2C.
 Figure 4 shows the corresponding N Is spectra for the same three formulations.
 Figure 5 shows a high magnification transmission electron micrograph of Nylon 6 with 6.62 vol% of boehmite.
 Figures 6A and 6B show bar graphs for different physical properties relating to nylon 6 alone, with 3.15vol% of conventional boehmite, and with 3.15vol% of the needle-shaped boehmite of the invention.
 Figure 7 shows a high magnification transrriission electron micrograph of a thermoplastic polyurethane (Isoplast 301 sold by Dow Chemical Company), with 1.86 vol% of boehmite.
 Figure 8 is a bar graph showing the effect of amino-silane additives in improving the storage modulus of an epoxy resin having 5vol% of needle-shaped boehmite particles dispersed therein.
 The present invention provides boehmite particles comprising needle-shaped, (or anisotropic), crystals in which the longest dimension is at least 50 nanometers and preferably from 50 to 2000, and more preferably from 100 to 1000, nanometers; and the dimensions perpendicular to the length are essentially the same and are each less than 50 nanometers; and the aspect ratio, defined as the ratio of the longest dimension to the next largest dimension perpendicular to the length, is at least 3: 1, and preferably at least 6:1. These particles will henceforth be described as "needle-shaped" in this description for the sake of clarity.
 Unexpectedly the hydrothermal conditions combined with the relatively low seeding level and the acidic pH of the mixture, resulted in preferential growth of the boehmite
along one axis such that, the longer the hydrothermal treatment continued, the longer were the needle-shaped boehmite particles that were produced. Remarkably these needle-shaped boehmite particles require no surface treatment to be individually and uniformly dispersed, that is to say to give an essentially uniform distribution within the polymer substantially without forming aggregates, by conventional compounding processes. This uniform and individual dispersion quality is hereinafter called "nano-dispersibility".
 The needle-shaped particles according to the invention have a surface area, as measured by the BET technique, of at least 75m^/g, and preferably from 100 to 300mVg.
 The invention also includes polymers modified by the incorporation of from 0.5 to 20%, and preferably from 2 to 10%, by volume (based on the combined volume of polymer plus boehmite), of the needle-shaped boehmite particles of the invention. The polymers in which the needle-shaped boehmite particles can be dispersed include for example polyamides, (including for example nylon 6 and nylon 12), thermoplastic polyurethanes, polyalkylene-glycols, ethylene/vinyl alcohol polymers, epoxy resins, acrylate based resins and the like. More generally the polymers are preferably thermoplastic polymers because this takes advantage of the very good dispersibility used in conventional polymer compounding technology using high intensity mixers, extruders and the like. It also recognizes that the use of fillers in the modification of physical properties of a polymer is most frequently an objective in the field of thermoplastic polymers. The products of this invention have the unique property (probably a function of their needle shapes) such that, upon extrusion, the boehmite particles tend to become aligned such that a polymer reinforced by such needle-shaped particles will have considerably enhanced physical properties, such as flex strength, in the direction of extrusion.
 It is believed that this unique dispersibility property of the needle-shaped boehmite particles derives from their ability to form hydrogen bonds with polar groups on the polymer chains which favors the mono-dispersed state. The needle-shaped boehmite particles can also be dispersed in other polymers which are essentially non-polar with the addition of conventional dispersing agents such as the amino-silanes.
 Because thermosetting resins such as phenolic and acrylate-based resins are also polar in character, it is believed that the needle-shaped boehmite particles can be fully dispersed to the individual particle level in such polymers, if the incorporation is accomplished before the cross-linking stage is significantly advanced for example with the ingredients that form the polymer or at the B-Stage of a condensation resin such as a phenolic resin.
 The needle-shaped boehmite particles according to the invention can be prepared by a hydrothermal treatment in which a boehmite precursor is dispersed/suspended in water and heated at a temperature of from 100 to 300 and preferable from 150 to 250°C in an autoclave at an autogenously generated pressure of from 1 x 10^ to 8.5 x 10^ and preferably from 5 x lO" to 1.2 x 10^ newtonsW for a period of from 1 to 24 and preferably from 1 to 3 hours. The % solids content of boehmite precursor in the dispersion is from 5 to 40, and preferably from 10 to 30 %. Along with the boehmite precursor, the dispersion comprises from 2 to 15 and preferably from 5 to 10 wt.%, based on the weight of the precursor, of boehmite particles. The boehmite particles act as seeds around which boehmite generated by conversion of the precursor, can crystallize. Because of the conditions of the hydrothermal treatment and the relatively low level of seeding, these crystals of boehmite grow preferentially along a single axis and to assume needle shapes which remain individually dispersed.
 The boehmite precursor can be any aluminum trihydroxide such as bayerite or gibbsite but it can also be finely crushed bauxite. It is also possible to use gamma alumina as the starting material. In the event an impure material such as bauxite is used to produce the needle-shaped boehmite particles it may be desirable, prior to incorporating obtained the boehmite particles obtained into a polymer, to wash them to flush away impurities such as silicon or titanium hydroxides and at least some of the silica content which are the residue of common impurities occurring in natural bauxite ores.
 Besides the unexpectedly easy and complete nano-dispersibility in polymers having polar groups, the needle-shaped particles of boehmite are easily dispersed in other polymers after receiving a suitable surface treatment with a surface active agent such as an amino-silane for example A-1100 which is commercially available from Aldrich Chemicals.
• [27| Because of the nano-dispersibility of the particles and their very small dimensions, the incorporation of such filler particles has minor or virtually no impact on the transparency of a thin film of the polymer, even at incorporation levels of up to 10vol%. This can prove a very valuable property in certain circumstances. It also means that thin-wall injection moldings can easily be obtained with points of weakness or surface interruptions-resulting from intrusions of particle agglomerates being largely eliminated.
 After the hydrothermal process it is often advantageous to separate any unreacted material and any hard aggregates. This can usually be done by a simple centrifugation process or even by simply decanting the liquid phase containing the peptized boehmite from a precipitated or unreacted phase.
Preparation of the Needle-Shaped Boehmite Example 1
 An autoclave was charged with 250g of CV3002 gibbsite purchased from Alcoa; 25g of boehmite obtained from SASOL under the name- Catapal B pseudoboehmite; lOOOg of deionized water; and 56g of 18% nitric acid. The boehmite was pre-dispersed in lOOg of the water and 7 g of the acid before adding to the gibbsite and the remaining water and acid.
 The autoclave was heated to 180°C over a 45 minute period and maintained at that temperature for 2 hours with stirring at 530 rpm. An autogenously generated pressure of about 150 psi was reached and maintained. Thereafter the boehmite dispersion was removed from the autoclave and the liquid content was removed at a temperature of 95°C. The resultant mass was crushed to less than 100 mesh.
 The boehmite obtained was in needle-shaped particles as shown in Figure IB. This is shown together with Figure lA which illustrates the prior art boehmite as represented by C-200 boehmite from SASOL. It will be noted that C-200, in common with most commercial boehmite powders, has particles that are predominantly equiaxed, (equal dimensions in the three mutually perpendicular directions), except for some obvious agglomerates. Needle-shaped crystals are rare. By contrast the particles of the invention
are essentially all individual and needle-shaped, about 10-20 nanometers in diameter and about 100-200 nanometers in length.
 This example illustrates the technique used to blend the boehmite of the invention with nylon 6 and the properties of the products obtained at two different levels of incorporation of boehmite in comparison with the unmodified polymer.
 Granulated Nylon 6 was dried overnight night at 80°C and then mixed with the specified amount of filler. The mixture was then passed through a Werner & Pfleiderer ZSK-30 twin-screw vented extruder. The extruder barrel was maintained at 235-245°C and the screw speed was maintained at 300 rpm. The extruded material was cooled and pelletized and dried at 80°C.
 Test samples were then injection molded from the pelletized material using an extrusion barrel temperature of 250-270°C and a mold maintained at 70-90°C.
 Three samples were made in this way: one with no filler; one with 3.15vol% of the needle-shaped boehmite of the invention; and one with 6.62vol% of the same boehmite. Figures 2A, 2B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, and 4 show the UV-VIS Spectra, the FTIR spectra and the XPS, N Is spectra of these three samples. A comparison of Figure 2A with Figures 2B and 2C shows that the nano-composite has essentially no absorption in the 400 to 700 nanometers wavelength range which corresponds to most of the visibleAJV wavelength range. A comparison of Figure 3A with Figures 3B and 3C shows the effect of the boehmite on the light transmittance through a thin film of the sample. The purpose is to show the characteristic shift of the minimum encountered around 3060cm" " with increasing boehmite content. This is known to relate to hydrogen bond formation and indicates clearly that hydrogen bonding between the nylon and the boehmite is at least one of the mechanisms by which the nano-dispersion of boehmite in the nylon is promoted.
 Figure 4 shows the same phenomenon by means of the shift of the N Is binding energy peak at about 400eV with increasing boehmite content.
 Figure 5 shows an exfoliated surface of the product containing 6.62vol% of the boehmite particles. The image was taken using transmission electron microscopy at a magnification of X51K. From the image it can be clearly seen that the separate needle-shaped boehmite particles are uniformly and individually dispersed in the polymer with no agglomeration.
 In this Example the effect of incorporating a conventional boehmite, exemplified by C-200 available from SASOL, which has particles as shown in Figure lA with a similar amount of the boehmite according to the invention, which has particles as shown in Figure IB. In each case the samples evaluated were compounded as described in Example 2. The modulus of elasticity, flexural modulus, E" (storage modulus from DMA measurements) at 30°C and 135°C, tensile strength, and heat distortion temperature were measured for the unmodified nylon 6, and the same polymer with conventional boehmite and then with the boehmite according to the invention were measured. The results are presented in the bar graphs shown in Figures 6A and 6B. From these graphs it can be clearly seen that the needle-shaped boehmite outperforms the conventional boehmite and often by considerable amounts.
 In this Example the boehmite according to the invention was dispersed in an epoxy resin. The resin selected was Buehler"s Epo-Kwik with its companion hardener. The boehmite used in previous examples was mixed with the resin component until homogeneous and separated into four samples. To three of the samples different surface active agents were added in an amount that was 0.5% of the weight of the boehmite in the formulation. The agents were tetraethoxysilane (TEOS); gamma-glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane (GPTS); and 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (A-1100). The fourth sample was contained no additive. The mixtures were stirred overnight on a hotplate with the temperature set between 40 and 85°C. Each mixture was then given four ultrasonic probe treatments each lasting 2.5 to 3 minutes with cooling in between each treatment in an ice bath. The samples were then placed in aluminum pans and placed under a vacuum for 20 minutes to remove air. The hardener component of the epoxy resin was then added in an amount that was one fifth of the amount of resin and
1. A modified polymer material comprising:
a polymer base; and
boehmite particles provided in the polymer base, the boehmite particles comprising mainly needle-shaped particles having an aspect ratio of at least about 3:1, wherein aspect ratio is the ratio of the longest dimension to the next largest dimension.
2. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the aspect ratio is at least about 6:1.
3. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the largest dimension of the boehmite particles is between 50 and 2000 nanometers.
4. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the largest dimension of the boehmite particles is between 100 and 1000 nanometers.
5. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the boehmite particles comprise 0:5 to 20 % volume of the modified polymer material.
6. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the boehmite particles comprise 2 to 10 % volume of the modified polymer material.
7. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the boehmite particles are free of surface agents.
8. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the boehmite particles are dispersed in the polymer base.
9. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the boehmite particles are dispersed substantially individually and uniformly in the polymer base.
10. The material as claimed in claim 9, wherein boehmite particles are substantially . free of agglomerates in the polymer base.
11. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the polymer base comprises a thermoplastic polymer.
12. The material as claimed in claim 11, wherein the thermoplastic polymer base comprises polyamide.
13. The material as claimed in claim 12, wherein the polymer base comprises nylon.
14. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the polymer base comprises thermosetting resin.
15. The material as claimed in claim 14, wherein the polymer base comprises at least one of a phenolic-based resin and an acrylate-based resin.
16. The material as claimed in claim 1, wherein the boehmite particles arc generally directionally aligned in the polymer base.
17. The material as claimed in claim 16, wherein the modified polymer material comprises an extruded product.
18. A modified polymer material comprising: a polymer base; and
needle-shaped boehmite particles free of surface agents and being dispersed in the polymer base.
19. The material as claimed in claim 18, wherein the boehmite particles are substantially uniformly and individually dispersed in the polymer base.
20. The material as claimed in claim 18, wherein the boehmite particles are substantially free of agglomerates.
21. The material as claimed in claim 18, wherein the polymer base comprises a polar polymer.
22. The material as claimed in claim 18, wherein the boehmite particles are anisotropically shaped.
23. The material as claimed in claim 22, wherein the aspect ratio is at least about 3:1.
24. A boehmite material comprising mainly needle-shaped boehmite particles having an aspect ratio of at least about 3:1, wherein aspect ratio is the ratio of the longest dimension to the next largest dimension.
25. The material as claimed in claim 24, wherein said aspect ratio is at least about 6:1.
26. The material as claimed in claim 24, wherein the largest dimension of the boehmite particles is between 50 and 2000 nanometers.
27. The material as claimed in claim 24, wherein the largest dimension of the boehmite particles is between 100 and 1000 nanometers.
28. The material as claimed in claim 24, wherein the boehmite particles have a surface area of at least 75 m2/g.
29. The material as claimed in claim 24, wherein the boehmite particles have a surface area of at least 100 m2/g.
30. A method for forming an extruded product, comprising:
providing a modified polymer material comprising a polymer base and boehmite particles comprising mainly needle-shaped particles having an aspect ratio of at least about 3:1 dispersed therein, wherein aspect ratio is the ratio of the longest dimension to the next largest dimension; and extruding the modified polymer material to form an extruded product.
31. The method as claimed in claim 30, wherein the boehmite particles are substantially aligned in the extruded product.
32. The method as claimed in claim 30, wherein the modified polymer material is extruded into a mold to form an article.
33. The method as claimed in claim 30, wherein the polymer base comprises a
34. The method as claimed in claim 33, wherein the thermoplastic polymer
comprises a polyamide.
35. The method as claimed in claim 30, wherein the aspect ratio is at least about 6:
36. The method as claimed in claim 30, wherein the largest dimension of the
boehmite particles is between 50 and 2000 nanometer.
37. The method as claimed in claim 30, wherein the boehmite particles comprise
0.5 to 20 % volume of the modified polymer material.
38. The method as claimed in claim 30, wherein the boehmite particles are
dispersed substantially individually and uniformly.
|Indian Patent Application Number||2330/CHENP/2004|
|PG Journal Number||13/2008|
|Date of Filing||14-Oct-2004|
|Name of Patentee||SAINT-GOBAIN CERAMICS & PLASTICS, INC|
|Applicant Address||1 New Bond Street, Box Number 15138, Worcester, MA 01615-0138,|
|PCT International Classification Number||C08K 3/22|
|PCT International Application Number||PCT/US03/11941|
|PCT International Filing date||2003-04-16|