High-throughput development of carbon-polymer nanocomposites for marine applications


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One of the major obstacles in the effective use of nanostructured carbon as reinforcement in polymer matrix composites is their agglomeration and poor dispersion within the metallic matrix. To overcome this obstacle the proposed project will synthesize and functionalize nanoscaled polymers of carbon nanotubes (mainly) and graphene sheets by employing environmentally friendly and cost-effective methods. Lab-scale production of carbon-based nanocomposites will be initially implemented, primarily for marine coatings but also for other applications where materials performance or biodegradability is of major importance.

High purity, low-cost carbon nanotubes and graphene will be tested in order to tailor their chemical functionality towards epoxy resins and biodegradable polyesters. High-throughput methods of carbon nanotubes production, based on fluidized bed technology, will be employed. Functionalization schemes, which can result in fast and economical synthesis of multifunctional nanocomposites, will be carried out by adopting protocols developed by the consortium. The characterization of the multifunctional lab-scale composites will provide a better understanding on how the scale and morphology of reinforcements can promote synergistically materials performance. Modelling of carbon nanotubes and epoxy binder compositions via the novel method of artificial neural network will also contribute to this insight.

Up-scaling of the qualified material production processes will be subsequently realized, resulting in the operation of large-scale production lines in the facilities of the industrial partners. The proposed research plan represents a key enabling technology for manufacturers to maximise profit and gain competitive advantages. Optimisation of the processing input parameters will be carried out in order to achieve desired processability (e.g. rheological properties), increased performance (mechanical, electrical or thermal properties) and improved antifouling properties.


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