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New Healable vCFRP Paves Path for Long-lasting and Sustainable Materials

Published on 2021-11-18. Edited By : SpecialChem

TAGS:  Sustainability and Bioplastics     Thermoplastic Composites   

CFRP-materials-healable A research team describes a new type of carbon fiber reinforced material that is as strong and light as traditionally used ones but can be repeatedly healed with heat, reversing any fatigue damage and providing a way to break it down and recycle it when it reaches the end of its life. The team includes University of Washington (UW) mechanical engineering Assistant Professor Aniruddh Vashisth.

New Material May Replace Traditional CFRPs


The material is part of a recently developed group known as carbon fiber reinforced vitrimers (vCFRP). The materials typically used today, whether in sporting goods or aerospace, are carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP).

Traditional CFRPs typically fall into two categories: thermoset or thermoplastic. The “set” variety contains an epoxy, a glue-like material where the chemical links holding it together harden permanently. The “plastic” version contains a softer type of glue so it can be melted back down and reworked, but this becomes a drawback for high strength and stiffness. Vitrimers on the other hand, can link, unlink and re-link, providing a middle ground between the two.

Imagine each of these materials is a room full of people,” says Vashisth. “In the thermoset room all of the people are holding hands and won’t let go. In the thermoplastic room people are shaking hands and moving all around. In the vitrimer room people shake hands with their neighbor but they have the capacity to exchange handshakes and make new neighbors so that the total number of interconnections remains the same. That re-connection is how the material gets repaired and this paper was the first to use atomic-scale simulations to understand the underlying mechanisms for those chemical handshakes.”

Viable Alternative for Many Products


The research team believes vitrimers could be a viable alternative for many products currently manufactured from thermosets, something badly needed as thermoset composites have begun piling up in landfills. The team says that healable vCFRPs would be a major shift toward a dynamic material with a different set of considerations in terms of life-cycle cost, reliability, safety and maintenance.

These materials can translate the linear life cycle of plastics to a circular one, which would be a great step towards sustainability” says Nikhil Koratkar, the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

In addition to Koratkar and Vashisth, the research team also included Mithil Kamble and Professor Catalin Picu of RPI, and Hongkun Yang and Professor Dong Wang of the Beijing University of Chemical Technology.

Source: University of Washington

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