February 23, 2017

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Pultruded Bio-composites

Fracture surfaces of glass fiber reinforced bio-resin composites Left: As-received glass fiber; Right: glass fiber that has been functionalized to be compatible with the bio-resin.

In this research we are investigating composites, made from bio-based resins and fiberglass, using pultrusion processing.  The bio-based resins are prepared by co-polymerization of agricultural oils (e.g. corn, linseed, and soybean) and commercially available co-monomers using ring-opening metathesis polymerization and cationic polymerization.

Pultrusion is a continuous manufacturing process for creating composites with a constant cross-section. One of our company partners currently manufactures a glass fiber reinforced unsaturated polyester material using a pultrusion process for the building construction industry. Working with them, our initial target is developing and optimizing prototype pultruded components from bio-based resins to replace the currently used petroleum-based unsaturated polyester resin. A table-top pultrusion machine was designed and built for this project to evaluate processing conditions (such as fiber ratio, pulling speed, heating temperature and heating rate) for the pultruded fiberglass/bio-resin systems in a lab-scale.  A wide range of bio-resin systems and resin formulations are being evaluated and optimized to have the right combination of processing viscosity, cure kinetics, and ultimate thermo-mechanical properties for pultrusion processing.

Top: Schematic diagram for pultrusion process; Bottom: Table-top pultrusion machine.

 

People involved:

Hongyu Cui, Riley Hanus, Michael Kessler