Composites based on high density polyethylene (HDPE), pine flour, and organic clay were made by melt compounding and injection molding. The influence of clay on crystallization behavior, mechanical properties, water absorption, and thermal stability of HDPE/pine composites were investigated. The HDPE/pine composites containing exfoliated clay were made by a two-step melt compounding procedure with a maleated polyethylene (MAPE) as a compatibilizer. Adding 2% clay to a HDPE/pine composite without MAPE decreased the crystallization temperature (Tc) and rate, and the crystallinity level. When 2% MAPE was added, the Tc and crystallization rate increased, but the crystallinity level was lowered. The flexural strength and the tensile strength of HDPE/pine composites increased 19.6% and 24.2% respectively with addition of 1% clay but then decreased slightly as the clay content was increased to 3%. The tensile modulus and tensile elongation were increased 11.8% and 13% respectively with addition of 1% clay but the storage and loss moduli barely change as the clay content was increased to 3%. The impact strength was lowered 7.5% by adding 1% clay, but did not decrease further as more clay was added. The moisture content and thickness swelling of the HDPE/pine composites was reduced by the clay, but did not improve the thermal stability.

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