Functional Multi-scale Composites by Coating of Fibrous Reinforcements

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Kinjalkumar Patel

Abstract

This study reports a novel and simple technique for successfully coating multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) on to the surface of carbon fibre (CF) fabric for the production of multi-scale CF–epoxy composites. Initially, epoxy composites with multi-scale reinforcement were produced by resin infusion (RI) using woven CF fabric coated with a dispersion of 1 wt. % MWCNTs in an epoxy binder of low molar mass. The effects of this reinforcement on the CF-epoxy interface with MWCNTs was studied in mode I and mode II interlaminar fracture toughness (ILFT) using double-cantilever beam (DCB) and 4 point end-notch flexure (4ENF) tests, respectively. Relative to an equivalent composite reinforced with non-coated CF reinforcement, the binder/MWCNTs coating increased significantly the ILFT of the CF-epoxy composite; in mode I by 105% and in mode II by 50%. This increase in ILFT was attributed to two main effects: Firstly, the binder alone (without MWCNTs), which has a much lower glass transition temperature (Tg) than that the matrix (45 vs. 140 °C), hindered crack propagation and increased the ILFT of the epoxy matrix by 25% for mode I and 15% for mode II; Secondly, the energy absorbing mechanisms of MWCNTs during fracture particularly pull-out and crack bridging. However the Tg of the matrix epoxy of the multi-scale composites was reduced to 118 °C compared to 140 °C, for the unmodified composite, due to phase mixing with the low Tg binder. For RI processing, the CF volume fraction of the composites prepared using coated CF was ≈50% compare to at ≈55% for the composite with non-coated CF. Curing agents were added to the binder, which not only increased the Tg from ≈50 °C to ≈100 °C, but also increased the Tg of the matrix epoxy of the multi-scale composites to 154 °C. Relative to an equivalent composite reinforced with non-coated CF reinforcement, the curable-binder/MWCNTs coating increased the ILFT of the CF-epoxy composite; in mode I by 120% and in mode II by 90%. A hybrid RI – hot press (HP) process was used to prepare CF-epoxy composites from coated fabrics with CF volume fractions of ≈55%. The damping curves for the HP-composites consisted of a β-peak, due to the formation of a third mixed phase, in addition to a γ-peak (assigned to the Tg of the binder) and an α-peak (assigned to the Tg of matrix epoxy). The β-peak, and the uniformly distributed nodular particles observed on the fracture surface of the matrix, by SEM, for HP–composites, are indicative of the formation of mixed-phase particles due to reaction induced phase separation (RIPS). Relative to an equivalent RI-composite, the curable-binder/MWCNTs treatment increased the ILFT of the CF-epoxy multi-scale composite; in mode I by 134% and in mode II by 15% for HP-composites. Impact test results showed that HP-composites absorbed more energy, due to CF fracture, compared to equivalent RI composites, which showed larger delamination areas after 5 J and 10 J impact. The out-of-plane electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity of the HP-composite with CF coated with curable-binder/MWCNTs was increased by ≈38% and ≈50%, respectively, compared to the composite with non-coated CF, indicating formation of MWCNTs networks in the matrix rich areas of the multi-scale composite.

Details

Original languageEnglish
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Supervisors/Advisors
Award date31 Dec 2018