PITA Fiscal Year 2011 Projects

Improving the Fatigue Resistance of Epoxies Using Nanoscale Toughening Agents

Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Raymond A. Pearson, Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Co-PI(s): Herman F. Nied, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
PA Industry: Arkema Functional Additives

Nanostructured polymer blends have been shown to possess a unique combination of properties. The objective of this work is to study the use of nanoscale, self-assembling block copolymers, considered by many to be the next generation toughening agents, to toughen lightly cross linked epoxies. The approach combines the technology at ARKEMA to synthesize various block copolymers with the expertise at Lehigh University to formulate epoxy blends and characterize the mechanical behavior of such materials. A collaborative effort between Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering will improve our ability to model toughening mechanisms and test these concepts on larger scale test specimens. The Mechanical Engineering contribution will include examination of improved toughening for knitted fiber composites. The anticipated result is that additional insights will be gained that will allow ARKEMA to synthesize more efficient block copolymers for toughening composite materials targeted for the fabrication of large wind turbine blades.