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Advisory Committee Chair

Haibin Ning

Advisory Committee Members

Selvum Pillay

Mark Weaver

Alan Eberhardt

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2015

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering

Abstract

. Carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRPs) have been widely used in various structural applications in industries such as aerospace and automotive because of their high specific stiffness and specific strength. Their mechanical properties are strongly influenced by the carbon fiber content in the composites. Measurement of the carbon fiber content in CFRPs is essential for product quality control and process optimization. In this work, a novel carbonization-in-nitrogen method (CIN) is developed to characterize the fiber content in carbon fiber reinforced thermoset and thermoplastic composites. In this method, a carbon fiber composite sample is carbonized in a nitrogen environment at elevated temperatures, alongside a neat resin sample. The carbon fibers are protected from oxidization while the resin (the neat resin and the resin matrix in the composite sample) is carbonized under the nitrogen environment. The residue of the carbonized neat resin sample is used to calibrate the resin carbonization rate and calculate the amount of the resin matrix in the composite sample. The new method has been validated on several thermoset and thermoplastic resin systems and found to yield an accurate measurement of fiber content in carbon fiber polymer composites. In order to further understand the thermal degradation behavior of the high temperature thermoplastic polymer during the carbonization process, the mechanism and the kinetic model of thermal degradation behavior of carbon fiber reinforced poly (phenylene sulfide) (CPPS) are studied using thermogravimetry analysis (TGA). The CPPS is subjected to TGA in an air and nitrogen atmosphere at heating rates from 5 to 40°C min-1. The TGA curves obtained in air are different from those in nitrogen. This demonstrates that weight loss occurs in a single stage in nitrogen but in two stages in air. To elucidate this difference, thermal decomposition kinetics is analyzed by applying the Kissinger, Flynn-Wall-Ozawa, Coat-Redfern and Malek methods. The activation energy (E) of the solid-state process is determined to be 202 kJ mol^(-1)in an oxidative atmosphere using Kissinger's method, which is 10-15 kJ mol^(-1)more than the results calculated in a nitrogen atmosphere. The value of the activation energy obtained using Ozawa-Flynn methods is in agreement with that using the Kissinger method. Different degradation mechanisms are used to compare with this value. Based on the analytical result, the actual thermal degradation mechanism of the CPPS is a Dn deceleration type. The carbonization temperature range of the CPPS is the same as pure PPS resin.

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