Certain forms of monohydrate aluminum oxide, commonly known as boehmite or pseudoboehmite alumina, are known to disperse in water at low pH to nano-scale dimensions. The upsurge of interest in nano-scale structures has prompted our study of the surface modification of nano-scale boehmite aluminas with organic acids in order to achieve dispersion of these materials in non-aqueous systems and alkaline aqueous systems.
This paper discusses the variety of modifiers used to achieve compatibilization and dispersion of nano-sized particles of these boehmite aluminas in aqueous and organic matrices. Organic modification of a variety of crystallite sizes (5-60 nm) and shapes (plates, needles, blocks) has been achieved, including materials of high aspect ratio. We describe the properties of these dispersions, including primary particle size, dispersed particle size, and surface charge. Finally, we present physical property data of polymer nanocomposites prepared from these materials. These materials are based on a commercial process which has been in operation for over 40 years and which has global production capacities of 70,000 tons per annum.