Researchers propose a new technology for aviation materials to allow their properties to be modified

Andrey Stepashkin, PhD, a senior researcher at the MISIS Center for Composite Materials. Credit: Sergey Gnoskov / NUST MISIS

Russian scientists have proposed a technology for creating lightweight and durable composite materials. It is based on a polymer matrix and carbon fiber. This material can be used in aircraft construction to create elements for power trains and hull structures. The developed compound can be easily recycled or disposed of, making it more environmentally friendly than its counterparts. The study was published in Polymers.

Carbon fiber is a unique material consisting almost entirely of carbon atoms. Its high mechanical strength in low weight, high temperature resistance and excellent wear resistance ensure its wide application in high-tech industries such as missile, aviation, construction and pharmaceutical. carbon fiber reinforced Composite materials Particularly in demand in the aircraft industry. The parts and structures made of them reduce the final weight of the aircraft, thereby reducing fuel consumption, thereby reducing the cost of operating the aircraft and the environmental impact. However, most carbon fiber composites today are based on epoxy resins and other insoluble, insoluble, and non-recyclable materials.

Scientists from MISIS University have created a new composite material based on engineering thermoplastic polymers and carbon fibres, which effectively retains its performance properties in aggressive environments, such as jet fuel, while being easily recycled.

As a reinforcing material, Russian-made carbon fiber was used. For the first time, polyether sulfone powder was used to produce the matrix instead of traditional epoxy resins. It is amorphous thermoplastic polymer With excellent mechanical properties and resistance to high temperatures, steam and various chemicals. It is also important that polyethersulfone is recyclable, unlike epoxy.

MISIS University researchers have chosen the best conditions for obtaining composite material And decided that the optimal content for carbon fiber For airborne vehicles based on polyethersulfone, it is 60-70% of the total weight of the structure.

The carbon fiber surface has been further modified by thermal oxidation, where a thin layer Composed of a large number of oxygen-containing Functional groups on the surface of the carbon filaments. It facilitates better adhesion of carbon fibers to the polymer matrix. For the impregnation of the carbon preform, instead of the traditional high-pressure impregnation for polymer melting, a solution technology was used – the polyethersulfone powder was first dissolved with organic solvent at room temperature, after which the modified carbon fibers are impregnated with the resulting solution. The test samples were then dried at 100 °C for four hours, and then the preform was placed in a mold where the workpieces were formed under pressure at 350 °C for 30 min.

As a result, the researchers achieved a stable structure of the obtained compound and significantly improved its mechanical properties and resistance to high temperatures. At the same time, as noted by the authors of the study, the technology for creating the proposed composites based on polyethersulfone and carbon fibers allows to modify the properties of the final material depending on the degree of filling polymer matrix with fibres.

“Speaking of the possibilities of application of the material, we need to look at the specific product in which it will be used, because it affects the working conditions of the structure, the requirements for strength, and the maximum permissible deformations. Accordingly, the reinforcement pattern changes, and the degree of filling (content) will also vary. But, if we talk, for example, about aircraft building materials, then the optimal content of carbon fibers is likely to be in the range of 60-70% of the total weight of the structure,” explains the co-author of the work, a senior researcher at the MISIS University Center for Composite Materials. , Ph.D. Andrey Stepashkin.

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more information:
Valerii G. Torokhov et al., Mechanical and Thermal Properties of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polyethersulfone, Polymers (2022). DOI: 10.3390 / polym14142956

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