The Effect of Clay on the Thermal Degradation of Polyamide 6 in Polyamide 6/Clay Nanocomposites
The degradation pathway of polyamide 6/clay nanocomposites was studied as a function of clay content. Well-dispersed polymer–clay nanocomposites can be easily obtained by simple melt blending between organically-modified clays and polyamide 6. Polyamide 6–clay nanocomposites exhibit a large reduction in the peak heat release rate, 60%, measured by cone calorimetry. There are no significant differences in the evolved products during thermal degradation of polyamide 6 and polyamide 6/clay nanocomposites in terms of composition and functionality. The main degradation pathway of polyamide 6 is aminolysis and/or acidolysis, primarily through an intra-chain reaction, producing ε-carprolactam, which is the monomer of polyamide 6. As the clay loading is increased, the relative quantity of ε-carprolactam in the evolved products decreases and the viscosity of the soluble solid residues increases. It is thought that inter-chain reactions become significant in the presence of clay because the degrading polymer chains are trapped in the gallery space of the clay during thermal degradation.