Multifunctional Wood Polymer Composites Reinforced with Graphene Nanoplatelets : Investigating if multifunctionality can be achieved in wood polymer composites through the addition of graphene nanoplatelets

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för teknikvetenskap och matematik

Abstract: Graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) were used to reinforce wood polymer composites (WPCs) in order to achieve multifunctionality. Multifunctionality could be achieved through the GNPs because of their excellent mechanical and electrical properties. The research consists of two parts: HDPE/GNP/WF composites and LLDPE/GNP composites. The HDPE part is a continuation of previous work. Here further mechanical characterisation was done (impact testing), impurities in the composites were identified, the manufacturing process that results in damaged wood particles was investigated and the Young's modulus of the composites were modeled. The impact strength was improved due to the addition of GNPs. WF composites exhibited more brittle behaviour and therefore a lower impact strength. The impurities were identified as some form of nanoclay introduced during the extrusion process. The particles were damaged during the extrusion processes. Little can be done about this as different shear configurations and/or screw speeds will result in a poor GNP dispersion and distribution. Modeling of the Young's modulus was the most accurate through applying the laminate analogy and rule of thumbs. The rule of mixtures does not represent the composites which have a preferred orientation. During the previous work done, it was found that the HDPE composite were not electrically conductive and therefore not multifunctional. The work was therefore continued with LLDPE and GNPs. LLDPE has more branches and is less dense, resulting in potential opportunities for the GNPs to form a network through the polymer. This could lead to a better conductivity. Mechanical and electrical characterisation was done of the LLDPE/GNP composites. Here multifunctionality could also not be achieved as the composites were highly electrically resistant. Mechanical testing indicated that the GNPs significantly enhance the LLDPE matrix. Here an increase of up to 170% could be seen in tensile modulus and an increase of 46% in tensile strength. Furthermore the GNPs improved the flexural properties and increase the resistance to viscoplastic deformation during residual strain testing. Overall the GNPs improve the mechanical properties significantly, but at 10wt.% GNP contents, multifunctionality could still not be achieved.

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