Chemical Engineering Science, Vol.84, 544-551, 2012
The functionalization of carbon nanotubes using a batch oscillatory flow reactor
This paper describes an efficient method for the functionalizing of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) using oscillatory flow mixing (OFM). A 3 I batch oscillatory flow reactor (OFR) was designed and constructed for pilot scale functionalization of MWCNT in order to potentially improve their compatibility within a thermoplastic polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) matrix. The OFM batch reactor consisted of a jacketed cylindrical vessel with a vertical axial oscillator that contained a series of baffled mixing plates. MWCNTs dispersed in dimethylformamide (DMF) were introduced into the reactor and a two stage reaction for functionalizing MWCNTs with PPS compatible groups was carried out under oscillation of baffles at elevated temperatures. Fluid mixing observations in the reactor showed that MWCNTs formed a uniform dispersion of aggregated flocs before and during the functionalization reaction. On completion of the reaction and cessation of the oscillation, the aggregated flocs of MWCNT rapidly sedimented at the bottom of the reactor; hence could be collected as a concentrated mass thereby facilitating the separation of functionalized MWCNTs from the solvent. The functionalized MWCNTs were dried and then characterized by transmission electron microscopy, infrared spectroscopy as well as thermal gravimetric analysis in order to investigate the extent of MWCNT functionalization. The characterization results confirmed the effective and relatively uniform functionalization of the MWCNTs despite formation of aggregates, indicating that OFM provides a viable approach for functionalizing MWCNTs. Crown Copyright (C) 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.