Heavy crude oil asphaltenes as a nanofiller for epoxy resin
Asphaltenes are harmful components of heavy crude oils and require rational utilization after oil refining or deasphalting. Asphaltenes are macromolecules containing various functional groups that self-assemble to nanoscale aggregates and can be used as nanofillers for polymers. In this research, mixtures of asphaltenes with the diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A were considered. The solubility of asphaltenes in this epoxy resin, the rheological properties of the mixtures, and the effect of asphaltenes on the curing with 4,4′-diaminodiphenyl sulfone were studied. In addition, the glass transition temperature, strength, and adhesion characteristics of the asphaltene-filled cured composites were evaluated. The dual role of asphaltenes in polymer modification was demonstrated: the asphaltenes simultaneously plasticize and reinforce the polymer matrix, and the transition from predominant plasticization to strengthening occurs with an asphaltene content at 20 wt%. The dual reinforcement/plasticization effect occurs because epoxy composites contain both nanosized and microsized particles of asphaltenes due to the partial dissolution of asphaltenes in the epoxy resin and the decrease in their solubility during high-temperature curing.