The addition of nanoparticles as reinforcing fillers in elastomers yields nanocomposites with unique property profiles, which opens the door for various new application fields. Major factors influencing the performance of nanocomposites are studied by varying the type and shape of nanoparticles and their dispersion in the natural rubber matrix. The industrial applicability of these nanocomposites is put into focus using two types of graphene and a nanoscale carbon black, all commercially available, and scalable processing techniques in the form of a highly filled masterbatch production via latex premixing by simple stirring or ultrasonically assisted dispersing with surfactant followed by conventional two-roll milling and hot pressing. Different processing and measurement methods reveal the potential for possible improvements: rheology, curing behavior, static and dynamic mechanical properties, swelling, and fire behavior. The aspect ratio of the nanoparticles and their interaction with the surrounding matrix prove to be crucial for the development of superior nanocomposites. An enhanced dispersing method enables the utilization of the improvement potential at low filler loadings (3 parts per hundred of rubber [phr]) and yields multifunctional rubber nanocomposites: two-dimensional layered particles (graphene) result in anisotropic material behavior with strong reinforcement in the in-plane direction (157% increase in the Young's modulus). The peak heat release rate in the cone calorimeter is reduced by 55% by incorporating 3 phr of few-layer graphene via an optimized dispersing process.

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