Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

M-RECT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 246067
Funded under: FP7-NMP
Country: United Kingdom

Improved recyclable reinforced thermoplastics

Reinforced polymers are used in the automotive and aerospace industries as well as for civil infrastructure such as bridges and railroads. Novel composites exploiting functionalised carbon nanotubes (CNTs) could provide major benefits in the future.
Improved recyclable reinforced thermoplastics
Most laminates used in industries are now based on fibres dispersed in a continuous phase polymer matrix. The EU-funded project 'Multiscale reinforcement of semi-crystalline thermoplastic sheets and honeycombs' (M-RECT) set out to create novel thermoplastics incorporating functionalised CNTs that outperform other reinforced polymers. The project covered the entire supply chain from CNT functionalisation to aid their dispersion in polymeric matrices, to finished component design, manufacturing, testing and use.

Scientists developed technologies resulting in successful functionalisation of CNTs and improved dispersion. The functionalisation processes are scalable and resulted in a patent application. Composite laminates based on the thermoplastic polymers polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and polyphenylene sulphide were manufactured from the novel materials. These polymers are recyclable because unlike thermoset polymers, they can be reheated and reshaped into desired forms over and over. The team produced the laminates with both conventional manufacturing approaches as well as a novel impregnation technology for which a patent application was filed.

The team evaluated the mechanical properties and damage tolerance of these materials. Fracture toughness of the PEEK-CNT composites was improved compared to laminates without CNTs. Simulation results using models developed within the M-RECT project were in good correspondence with test results on validation components. The models will be valuable in guiding future development campaigns.

Multifunctional honeycombs such as the curved, centre-symmetric SILICOMB structure are gaining interest for their enhanced structural integrity and light weight. Investigators also developed a variety of novel morphing honeycomb systems based on SILICOMB. These could offer important benefits in insulation and reduced fuel consumption, and development will continue in a follow-up project.

In addition to materials development, the team created a technology for damage assessment that can be moulded into a thermoplastic composite for structural health monitoring. In addition, scientists produced a tool for risk evaluation that has been distributed to consortium members for use during future development work.

M-RECT has stimulated the development and use of novel thermoplastic composites exploiting functionalised CNTs. Adoption of the new materials could have important environmental and economic impact related to manufacturing, use and recycling.

Related information

Keywords

Reinforced polymers, composites, carbon nanotubes, thermoplastic, honeycombs
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