Characterisation of the structural properties of ECNF embedded pan nanomat reinforced glass fiber hybrid composites
In this study, hybrid multiscale epoxy composites were developed from woven glass fabrics and PAN nanofibers embedded with short ECNFs (diameters of ~200nm) produced via electrospinning. Unlike VGCNFs or CNTs which are prepared through bottom-up methods, ECNFs were produced through a top-down approach; hence, ECNFs are much more cost-effective than VGCNFs or CNTs. Impact absorption energy, tensile strength, and flexural strength of the hybrid multiscale reinforced GFRP composites were investigated. The control sample was the conventional GFRP composite prepared from the neat epoxy resin. With the increase of ECNFs fiber volume fraction up to 1.0%, the impact absorption energy, tensile strength, and flexural strength increased. The incorporation of ECNFs embedded in the PAN nanofibers resulted in improvements on impact absorption energy, tensile strength, and flexural properties (strength and modulus) of the GFPC. Compared to the PAN reinforced GRPC, the incorporation of 1.0% ECNFs resulted in the improvements of impact absorption energy by roughly 9%, tensile strength by 37% and flexural strength by 29%, respectively. Interfacial debonding of matrix from the fiber was shown to be the dominant mechanism for shear failure of composites without ECNFs. PAN/ECNFs networks acted as microcrack arresters enhancing the composites toughness through the bridging mechanism in matrix rich zones. More energy absorption of the laminate specimens subjected to shear failure was attributed to the fracture and fiber pull out of more ECNFs from the epoxy matrix. This study suggests that, the developed hybrid multiscale ECNF/PAN epoxy composite could replace conventional GRPC as low-cost and high-performance structural composites with improved out of plane as well as in plane mechanical properties. The strengthening/ toughening strategy formulated in this study indicates the feasibility of using the nano-scale reinforcements to further improve the mechanical properties of currently structured high-performance composites in the coming years. In addition, the present study will significantly stimulate the long-term development of high-strength high-toughness bulk structural nanocomposites for broad applications.
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Engineering. Johannesburg, May 2016
Bradley, Philip (2016) Characterisation of the structural properties of ECNF embedded pan nanomat reinforced glass fiber hybrid composites, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/handle/10539/21162>