We describe an approach for modeling the filler network formation kinetics of particle-reinforced rubbery polymers—commonly called filler flocculation—that was developed by employing parallels between deformation effects in jammed particle systems and the influence of temperature on glass-forming materials. Experimental dynamic viscosity results were obtained concerning the strain-induced particle network breakdown and subsequent time-dependent reformation behavior for uncross-linked elastomers reinforced with carbon black and silica nanoparticles. Using a relaxation time function that depends on both actual dynamic strain amplitude and fictive (structural) strain, the model effectively represented the experimental data for three different levels of dynamic strain down-jump with a single set of parameters. This fictive strain model for filler networking is analogous to the established Tool–Narayanaswamy–Moynihan model for structural relaxation (physical aging) of nonequilibrium glasses. Compared to carbon black, precipitated silica particles without silane surface modification exhibited a greater overall extent of filler networking and showed more self-limiting behavior in terms of network formation kinetics in filled ethylene-propylene-diene rubber (EPDM). The EPDM compounds with silica or carbon black filler were stable during the dynamic shearing and recovery experiments at 160 °C, whereas irreversible dynamic modulus increases were noted when the polymer matrix was styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), presumably due to branching/cross-linking of SBR in the rheometer. Care must be taken when measuring and interpreting the time-dependent filler networking in unsaturated elastomers at high temperatures.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited