Special Issue "Functionalization Procedures and Emerging Applications of Polymer Foams and Composites"

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360). This special issue belongs to the section "Polymer Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Miguel Angel Rodríguez-Pérez
Website
Guest Editor
Director CellMat Laboratory, University of Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain
Interests: cellular polymers; nanocellular polymers; cellular nanocomposites; biocellular polymers; polyurethane foams
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Javier Pinto
Website
Guest Editor
University of Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain
Interests: nanocellular polymers; functionalized polymers; environmental remediation; polymer nanocomposites; smart materials
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The journal Polymers is preparing a Special Issue title “Functionalization Procedures and Emerging Applications of Polymer Foams and Composites”. In this Special issue, recent research on the functionalization of polymer foams and composites, as well as on the development of new or optimized applications of these materials, is considered.

Polymer foams and composites are current materials of great technological relevance and widely employed in our present world. These materials could present a wide range of tunable properties, which are directly related to their inner multiphasic structure. The different possible combinations of polymer matrices with a gaseous phase and/or a filler (e.g., fibers, microparticles, or nanoparticles), together with the fine control about the structure or dispersion of these secondary phases, allows for the obtaining of an extraordinarily wide range of bulk physical and chemical properties, making these materials suitable for a wide range of applications (from packaging to aeronautics).

However, fine control of the interfacial properties of polymer foams and composites is usually not achieved by the conventional production routes of these materials, since these properties are extremely important in several applications, such as water treatment, biomedical, catalysis, etc. Generally speaking, to obtain a noticeable effect on the surface properties by conventional production routes, it could be necessary to include a large number of fillers to ensure a sufficient presence of them in the surfaces of polymer foams and composites. On the other hand, an improved production process could selectively locate the particles in the surfaces, or a later functionalization procedure could modify the surface with the exact amount of particles required.

Moreover, recent advances in both production routes and functionalization procedures could improve their use in current applications of these materials, present additional advantages (e.g., biodegradability), or even make them suitable for new applications. Therefore, the Editors are pleased to launch this Special Issue and invite researchers to contribute their reviews and original papers on the development of functionalization procedures of polymer foams and composites, as well as on the study of potential new applications for these materials. Potential topics cover but are not restricted to the following:

  • Functionalization procedures of polymer foams and composites, and technologies to control their surface morphology;
  • Water treatment technologies based on polymer foams and composites;
  • Biomedical developments based on polymer foams and composites (e.g., scaffolds, drug delivery);
  • Gas capture and storage using polymer foams and composites;
  • Catalysis and other chemistry procedures (e.g., degradation of dangerous chemicals) using polymer foams and composites;
  • Polymer foams and composites with magnetic response or electromagnetic shielding capability;
  • Polymer foams and composites with improved thermal or acoustic isolation capability;
  • Biodegradable or sustainable polymer foams and composites with improved surface or bulk properties;
  • Transparent or optically active polymer foams and composites.

Prof. Miguel Angel Rodríguez-Pérez
Dr. Javier Pinto
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Polymer foam
  • Cellular polymer
  • Polymer composite
  • Functional polymer
  • Surface properties
  • Environmental remediation
  • Water treatment
  • Transparent foams
  • Biodegradable polymers.

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Non-Invasive Approaches for the Evaluation of the Functionalization of Melamine Foams with In-Situ Synthesized Silver Nanoparticles
Polymers 2020, 12(5), 996; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12050996 - 25 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The use of polymeric nanocomposites has arisen as a promising solution to take advantage of the properties of nanoparticles (NPs) in diverse applications (e.g., water treatment, catalysis), while overcoming the drawbacks of free-standing nanoparticles (e.g., aggregation or accidental release). In most of the [...] Read more.
The use of polymeric nanocomposites has arisen as a promising solution to take advantage of the properties of nanoparticles (NPs) in diverse applications (e.g., water treatment, catalysis), while overcoming the drawbacks of free-standing nanoparticles (e.g., aggregation or accidental release). In most of the cases, the amount and size of the NPs will affect the stability of the composite as well as their performance. Therefore, a detailed characterization of the NPs present on the nanocomposites, including their quantification, is of vital importance for the optimization of these systems. However, the determination of the NPs load is often carried out by destructive techniques such as TGA or ICP-OES, the development of non-invasive approaches to that aim being necessary. In this work, the amount of silver NPs synthesized directly on the surface of melamine (ME) foams is studied using two non-invasive approaches: colorimetry and X-ray radiography. The obtained results show that the amount of silver NPs can be successfully determined from the luminosity and global color changes of the surface of the foams, as well as from the X-ray attenuance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Melamine Foams Decorated with In-Situ Synthesized Gold and Palladium Nanoparticles
Polymers 2020, 12(4), 934; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12040934 - 17 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
A versatile and straightforward route to produce polymer foams with functional surface through their decoration with gold and palladium nanoparticles is proposed. Melamine foams, used as polymeric porous substrates, are first covered with a uniform coating of polydimethylsiloxane, thin enough to assure the [...] Read more.
A versatile and straightforward route to produce polymer foams with functional surface through their decoration with gold and palladium nanoparticles is proposed. Melamine foams, used as polymeric porous substrates, are first covered with a uniform coating of polydimethylsiloxane, thin enough to assure the preservation of their original porous structure. The polydimethylsiloxane layer allows the facile in-situ formation of metallic Au and Pd nanoparticles with sizes of tens of nanometers directly on the surface of the struts of the foam by the direct immersion of the foams into gold or palladium precursor solutions. The effect of the gold and palladium precursor concentration, as well as the reaction time with the foams, to the amount and sizes of the nanoparticles synthesized on the foams, was studied and the ideal conditions for an optimized functionalization were defined. Gold and palladium contents of about 1 wt.% were achieved, while the nanoparticles were proven to be stably adhered to the foam, avoiding potential risks related to their accidental release. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Highly Deformable Porous Electromagnetic Wave Absorber Based on Ethylene–Propylene–Diene Monomer/Multiwall Carbon Nanotube Nanocomposites
Polymers 2020, 12(4), 858; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12040858 - 08 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The need for electromagnetic interference (EMI) shields has risen over the years as the result of our digitally and highly connected lifestyle. This work reports on the development of one such shield based on vulcanized rubber foams. Nanocomposites of ethylene–propylene–diene monomer (EPDM) rubber [...] Read more.
The need for electromagnetic interference (EMI) shields has risen over the years as the result of our digitally and highly connected lifestyle. This work reports on the development of one such shield based on vulcanized rubber foams. Nanocomposites of ethylene–propylene–diene monomer (EPDM) rubber and multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were prepared via hot compression molding using a chemical blowing agent as foaming agent. MWCNTs accelerated the cure and led to high shear-thinning behavior, indicative of the formation of a 3D interconnected physical network. Foamed nanocomposites exhibited lower electrical percolation threshold than their solid counterparts. Above percolation, foamed nanocomposites displayed EMI absorption values of 28–45 dB in the frequency range of the X-band. The total EMI shielding efficiency of the foams was insignificantly affected by repeated bending with high recovery behavior. Our results highlight the potential of cross-linked EPDM/MWCNT foams as a lightweight EM wave absorber with high flexibility and deformability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
SEBS-Grafted Itaconic Acid as Compatibilizer for Elastomer Nanocomposites Based on BaTiO3 Particles
Polymers 2020, 12(3), 643; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12030643 - 12 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Itaconic acid (IA) is an organic acid produced by the fermentation of sugars with aspergillus. It has been identified as one of the top 12 building-block chemicals. Here, we report the use of IA as a possible substitute to petroleum-based compatibilizers in polymer [...] Read more.
Itaconic acid (IA) is an organic acid produced by the fermentation of sugars with aspergillus. It has been identified as one of the top 12 building-block chemicals. Here, we report the use of IA as a possible substitute to petroleum-based compatibilizers in polymer composite. We applied this study to thermoplastic elastomers based on styrene copolymers, since they are commonly used in blends and composites. Poly(styrene-b-ethylene-butylene-b-styrene) (SEBS) was grafted with 2.6 wt.% of itaconic acid (SEBS-g-IA) prepared by a reactive melt-mixing process, and was subsequently used to prepare composites filled with BaTiO3.). IA was successfully grafted as demonstrated by FTIR and XRD. SEBS-g-IA composites presented better mechanical properties, achieving an increase of Young modulus up to 80% compared with the neat polymer. This was ascribed to better dispersion and compatibility with the filler. Additionally, SEBS-g-IA showed increased dielectric permittivity, i.e., showed increased polarity, which indicates that it could potentially be used as a modifier for specialized polymers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Enhanced Surface Properties of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic by Epoxy Modified Primer with Plasma for Automotive Applications
Polymers 2020, 12(3), 556; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12030556 - 03 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) is currently used as a lightweight material in various parts of automobiles. However, fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) material may be damaged at the time of joining via mechanical bonding; therefore, adhesion is important. When bonding is conducted without [...] Read more.
Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) is currently used as a lightweight material in various parts of automobiles. However, fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) material may be damaged at the time of joining via mechanical bonding; therefore, adhesion is important. When bonding is conducted without surface CFRP treatment, interfacial destruction occurs during which the adhesive falls off along with the CFRP. Mechanical strength and fracture shape were investigated depending on the surface treatment (pristine, plasma treatment times, and plasma treatment times plus epoxy modified primer coating). The plasma treatment effect was verified using the contact angle and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The wettability of the epoxy modified primer (EMP) coating was confirmed through surface morphology analysis, followed by observation of mechanical properties and fracture shape. Based on test data collected from 10 instances of plasma treatment, the EMP coating showed 115% higher strength than that of pristine CFRP. The adhesive failure shape also changed from interfacial failure to mixed-mode failure. Thus, applying an EMP coating during the automotive parts stage enhances the effect of CFRP surface treatment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Plant-Inspired Layer-by-Layer Self-Assembly of Super-Hydrophobic Coating for Oil Spill Cleanup
Polymers 2019, 11(12), 2047; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11122047 - 10 Dec 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
A versatile, facile, energy-saving, low-cost and plant-inspired self-assembly strategy was used to prepare super-hydrophobic coating in this study. Concretely, an appealing super-hydrophobicity surface was obtained by designing a molecular building block phytic acid (PA)-Fe (III) complex to anchor the substrate and hydrophobic thiol [...] Read more.
A versatile, facile, energy-saving, low-cost and plant-inspired self-assembly strategy was used to prepare super-hydrophobic coating in this study. Concretely, an appealing super-hydrophobicity surface was obtained by designing a molecular building block phytic acid (PA)-Fe (III) complex to anchor the substrate and hydrophobic thiol groups (HT). The facile and green modification method can be applied to variety of substrates. The as-prepared PA-Fe (III)–HT coated melamine composite sponge possesses both super-hydrophobic and superlipophilicity property. Moreover, it displays superior efficiency to separate the oil–water mixture and splendid oil spill cleanup. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Fabrication and Characterization of Thermal-Responsive Biomimetic Small-Scale Shape Memory Wood Composites with High Tensile Strength, High Anisotropy
Polymers 2019, 11(11), 1892; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11111892 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Intelligent responsive materials have become one of the most exciting fields in the research of new materials in the past few decades due to their practical and potential applications in aerospace, biomedicine, textile, electronics, and other relative fields. Here, a novel thermal-responsive biomimetic [...] Read more.
Intelligent responsive materials have become one of the most exciting fields in the research of new materials in the past few decades due to their practical and potential applications in aerospace, biomedicine, textile, electronics, and other relative fields. Here, a novel thermal-responsive biomimetic shape memory wood composite is fabricated utilizing polycaprolactone-based (PCL) shape-memory polymer to modify treated-wood. The shape memory wood inherits visual characteristics and the unique three-dimension structure of natural wood that endows the shape memory wood (SMW) with outstanding tensile strength (10.68 MPa) at room temperature. In terms of shape memory performance, the shape recovery ratio is affected by multiple factors including environment temperature, first figuration angle, cycle times, and shows different variation tendency, respectively. Compared with shape recovery ratio, the shape fixity ratio (96%) is relatively high and stable. This study supplies more possibilities for the functional applications of wood, such as biomimetic architecture, self-healing wood veneering, and intelligent furniture. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Physical Foaming and Crosslinking of Polyethylene with Modified Talcum
Polymers 2019, 11(9), 1472; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11091472 - 09 Sep 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
The aim of this study was the investigation of the use of modified talcum for supporting crosslinking and as novel nucleating agent for physical foaming of polyethylene. For the modification of the talcum, a thermal initiator was linked to the talcum surface. During [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was the investigation of the use of modified talcum for supporting crosslinking and as novel nucleating agent for physical foaming of polyethylene. For the modification of the talcum, a thermal initiator was linked to the talcum surface. During the extrusion process, the initiator decomposes, and gas and radicals are formed. The gas generates the nucleation of cells and the radicals support the crosslinking process between the polymer chains. The modification of the talcum was performed in three steps: The first step was the grafting of alkoxysilanes onto the talcum surface. The second step was the chlorination of the thermal initiator for an easier linkage, and the last step was the linking between the initiator and the silanes grafted onto the talcum surface. For this study, two investigations were carried out. One investigation was the analysis of the crosslinking effect with the modified talcum. For this purpose, polyethylene plates were compression molded and the viscoelastic properties were measured with a parallel plate rheometer. The use of the modified talcum led to a higher crosslinking density. The second investigation was the physical foaming experiment in an extrusion process with nitrogen as blowing agent using both a pure and the modified talcum as nucleating agents. The foamed samples were characterized in terms of density, cell size and cell density, and compared with each other. The blend with the modified nucleating agent indicated a foam structure with a smaller mean cell size and a lower density compared to the use of the pristine nucleating agent. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identification and Quantification of Cell Gas Evolution in Rigid Polyurethane Foams by Novel GCMS Methodology
Polymers 2019, 11(7), 1192; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11071192 - 17 Jul 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
This paper presents a new methodology based on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS) in order to separate and quantify the gases presented inside the cells of rigid polyurethane (RPU) foams. To demonstrate this novel methodology, the gas composition along more than three years of [...] Read more.
This paper presents a new methodology based on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS) in order to separate and quantify the gases presented inside the cells of rigid polyurethane (RPU) foams. To demonstrate this novel methodology, the gas composition along more than three years of aging is herein determined for two samples: a reference foam and foam with 1.5 wt% of talc. The GCMS method was applied, on one hand, for the accurate determination of C5H10 and CO2 cell gases used as blowing agents and, on the other hand, for N2 and O2 air gases that diffuse rapidly from the surrounding environment into foam cells. GCMS results showed that CO2 leaves foam after 2.5 month (from 21% to 0.03% for reference foam and from 17% to 0.03% for foam with 1.5% talc). C5H10 deviates during 3.5 months (from 28% up to 39% for reference foam and from 29% up to 36% for foam with talc), then it starts to leave the foam and after 3.5 year its content is 13% for reference and 10% for foam with talc. Air diffuses inside the cells faster for one year (from 51% up to 79% for reference and from 54% up to 81% for foam with talc) and then more slowly for 3.5 years (reaching 86% for reference and 90% for foam with talc). Thus, the fast and simple presented methodology provides valuable information to understand the long-term thermal conductivity of the RPU foams. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Preparation of Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) Perforated Membrane via CO2 Foaming and Its Particle Separation Performance
Polymers 2019, 11(5), 847; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11050847 - 10 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The way in which a perforated structure is formed has attracted much interest in the porous membrane research community. This novel structure gives materials an excellent antifouling property as well as a low operating pressure and other benefits. Unfortunately, the current membrane fabrication [...] Read more.
The way in which a perforated structure is formed has attracted much interest in the porous membrane research community. This novel structure gives materials an excellent antifouling property as well as a low operating pressure and other benefits. Unfortunately, the current membrane fabrication methods usually involve multi-step processes and the use of organic solvents or additives. Our study is the first to offer a way to prepare perforated membrane by using a physical foaming technique with CO2 as the blowing agent. We selected thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) as the base material because it is a biocompatible elastomer with excellent tensility, high abrasion resistance, and good elastic resilience. Various processing parameters, which included the saturation pressure, the foaming temperature, and the membrane thickness, were applied to adjust the TPU membrane’s perforated morphology. We proposed a possible formation mechanism of the perforated membrane. The as-prepared TPU membrane had good mechanical properties with a tensile strength of about 5 MPa and an elongation at break above 100%. Such mechanical properties make this novel membrane usable as a self-standing filter device. In addition, its straight-through channel structure can separate particles and meet different separation requirements. Full article
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