Polyurethane/clay nanocomposites foams: Processing, structure and properties

Xia Cao, L. James Lee, Tomy Widya, Chris Macosko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

457 Scopus citations


Polyurethane (PU)/montmorillonite (MMT) nanocomposites were synthesized with organically modified layered silicates (organoclays) by in situ polymerization and foams were prepared by a batch process. Clay dispersion of polyurethane nanocomposites was investigated by X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. The morphology and properties of PU nanocomposites and foams greatly depend on the functional groups of the organic modifiers, synthesis procedure, and molecular weight of polyols because of the chemical reactions and physical interactions involved. Silicate layers of organoclay can be exfoliated in the PU matrix by adding hydroxyl and organotin functional groups on the clay surface. The presence of clay results in an increase in cell density and a reduction of cell size compared to pure PU foam. In the polyurethane with high molecular weight polyol, a 6°C increase in Tg, 650% increase in reduced compressive strength, and 780% increase in reduced modulus were observed with the addition of 5% organically treated clays. Opposite effects were observed in PU nanocomposite foams with highly crosslinked structure. The interference of the H-bond in the presence of clay is probably the reason.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-783
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 26 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Bayer Groups, Dow Chemical and Air Products and Chemicals for providing materials, and the NSF Center for Advanced Polymer and Composite Engineering (CAPCE) at The Ohio State University and the Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering (IPRIME) at the University of Minnesota for financial support. Valuable discussion and formulation suggestion from BASF are greatly appreciated.


  • Clay dispersion
  • Organoclay
  • Polyurethane (PU)


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