Nanoparticles enhanced fibre-reinforced polymer composites used in marine environment

Author: Wei Han

Han, Wei, 2018 Nanoparticles enhanced fibre-reinforced polymer composites used in marine environment, Flinders University, School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics

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Fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) composites have been used in maritime engineering for more than 50 years, however, many facts such as aqueous corrosion, UV aging and tidal movements deteriorate the performance of composites and limit the applications under marine environment. Recently, the demands of more reliable, economy, environment friendly composites have prompted an industry-wide investigation of advanced materials. Nanotechnology is an advanced medium to improve the properties and expand the applications of composites. The benefits include enhancing mechanical behaviours: such as Young’s modulus, toughness, impaction and fatigue, and enabling multifunctional behaviours: such as thermal conductivities, electrical conductivities and electromagnetic wave absorb. Therefore, using nanoparticles is a desirable technology to develop cost-effective, large-scale, and durable FRP composites. This thesis aims to use feasible methods by using nanoparticles (such as functionalised nanosilica, halloysite nanotubes, so-gel nanosilica) to reinforce FRP composites to extenuate harsh environment effects with the large scale manufacturing possibilities.

The first part of the thesis focuses on investigation concentration effects of nanoparticles (halloysite nanotubes, nanosilica) on the mechanical performance, especially on fracture toughness and processibility, particularly on viscosities of nanoparticle filled matrices. In addition, the toughen mechanisms of two kinds of functionalised nanosilica/ epoxy composites have been studied and revealed that nanosilica can reduce the corrosion rate and fraction coefficient under marine environment, thus providing a new pathway to improve the marine composite performance.

The second part of thesis reports that the bio-material, i.e. dopamine acting as a sizing and polymerising on carbon fibre surfaces to form polydopamine. The new method to reinforce the interlaminar shear strength of CFRP composites has been explored. Furthermore, combining coupling agent and halloysite nanotubes to develop synergistic effects on enhancing the mechanical properties of GFRP composite under simulated marine environment was studied.

The third part of thesis aims to design a new strategy to reinforce composites by two ways, i.e., using the so-gel nanosilica to reinforce the matrix and using polydopamine to enhance the interfaces of carbon fibres and matrix. Excellent performances have been achieved, especially under the simulated marine environment. The proposed enhancement mechanism has also been proposed.

In conclusion, this thesis tries to explore nanoparticle enhanced fibre reinforced composites used in marine environment, and aims to fabricate low-cost, large-scale and durable nanoparticle reinforced composites as an alternative choice for maritime engineering applications.

Keywords: composite, fracture toughness, polydopamine, Fibre reinforced polyme, marine environment

Subject: Engineering thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Supervisor: Youhong Tang