All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Uday Vaidya

Advisory Committee Members

Krishnan Chawla

Derrick Dean

Yogesh Vohra

Mark Weaver

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering


Carbon/Carbon (C/C) composites are used in high temperature applications because they exhibit excellent thermomechanical properties. There are several challenges associated with the processing of C/C composites that include long cycle times, formation of closed porosity within fabric woven architecture and carbonization induced cracks that can lead to reduction of mechanical properties. This work addresses various innovative approaches to reduce processing uncertainties and thereby improve thermomechanical properties of C/C by using vapor grown carbon nanofibers (VGCNFs) in conjunction with carbon fabric and precursor phenolic matrix. The different aspects of the proposed research contribute to understanding of the translation of VGCNFs properties in a C/C composite. The specific objectives of the research are; (a) To understand the mechanical properties and microstructural features of phenolic resin precursor with and without modification with VGCNFs; (b) To develop innovative processing concepts that incorporate VGCNFs by spraying them on carbon fabric and/or adding VGCNFs to the phenolic resin precursor; and characterizing the process induced thermal and mechanical properties; and (c) To develop a finite element model to evaluate the thermal stresses developed in the carbonization of carbon/phenolic with and without VGCNFs. Addition of VGCNFs to phenolic resin enhanced the thermal and physical properties in terms of iii flexure and interlaminar properties, storage modulus and glass transition temperature and lowered the coefficient of thermal expansion. The approaches of spraying VGCNFs on the fabric surface and mixing VGCNFs with the phenolic resin was found to be effective in enhancing mechanical and thermal properties of the resulting C/C composites. Fiber bridging, improved carbon yield and minimization of carbonization-induced damage were the benefits of incorporating VGCNFs in C/C composites. Carbonization induced matrix cracking predicted by the finite element model is consistent with that observed experimentally. The finite element model is supported by a modification of a shear-lag model that describes the load transfer of a crack at the fiber/matrix interface

Included in

Engineering Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.