All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Selvum Pillay

Advisory Committee Members

Uday Vaidya

Derrick Dean

Alan Shih

Mark Weaver

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering


Carbon/Carbon Composites (CCC) are made of carbon reinforcement in carbon matrix and have high thermal stability and fatigue resistance. CCC are used in nose cones, heat shields and disc brakes of aircrafts due to their exceptional mechanical properties at high temperature. The manufacturing process of CCC involves a carbonization stage in which unwanted elements, except carbon, are eliminated from the polymer precursor. Carbonization results in the formation of voids and cracks due to the thermal mismatch between the reinforcement and the matrix and expulsion of volatiles from the polymer matrix. Thermal cracks and voids decrease the density and mechanical properties of the manufactured CCC. In this work, Nanographene Platelets (NGP) were explored as nanofillers to fill the voids/cracks and reduce thermal shrinkage in CCC. They were first compared with Vapor Grown Carbon Nanofibers (VGCNF) by dispersion of different concentrations (0.5wt%, 1.5wt%, 3wt%) in resole-type phenolic resin and were characterized to explore their effect on rheology, heat of reaction and wetting behavior. The dispersions were then cured to form nanocomposites and were characterized for morphology, flexure and ther-mal properties. Finally, NGP were introduced into the carbon/carboncomposites in two stages, first by spraying in different concentrations (0.5wt%, 1.5wt%, 3wt%, 5wt %) dur-ing the prepreg formation and later during densification by directly mixing in the corre-sponding densification mix. The manufactured NGP reinforced CCC were characterized for microstructure, porosity, bulk density and mechanical properties (Flexure and ILSS) which were further cross-checked by non-destructive techniques (vibration and ultrason-ic). In this study, it was further found that at low concentration (¡Ãœ1.5 wt%) NGP were more effective in increasing the heat of reaction and in decreasing the viscosity of the phenolic resin. The decrease in viscosity led to better wetting properties of NGP / phenolic dispersions compared to VGCNF/phenolic dispersions. In nanocomposites, at low concentration (¡Ãœ 1.5 wt%), NGP were effective in increasing the flexure strength, char content and lowering the porosity and coefficient of thermal expansion of neat phenolic resin. At higher concentration (>1.5wt%), NGP had a tendency to agglomerate and lost their effectiveness. The behavior observed in nanocomposites continued in manufactured CCC. The highest Inter Laminar Shear Strength (ILSS), flexure strength/modulus, stiffness and density was observed at 1.5 wt% NGP. In CCC at concentrations > 1.5 wt%, the properties (ILSS, flexure, stiffness, density) decreased due to agglomeration but they were still higher compared to that of neat CCC (without NGP).

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