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Microwave curing of epoxy polymers reinforced with carbon nanotubes

Authors

  • Ignatios Fotiou,

    1. Applied Mechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics, University of Patras, Rio-Patras 26504, Greece
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  • Athanasios Baltopoulos,

    1. Applied Mechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics, University of Patras, Rio-Patras 26504, Greece
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  • Antonios Vavouliotis,

    1. Applied Mechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics, University of Patras, Rio-Patras 26504, Greece
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  • Vassilis Kostopoulos

    Corresponding author
    1. Applied Mechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics, University of Patras, Rio-Patras 26504, Greece
    • Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics, Applied Mechanics Laboratory, University of Patras, Rio-Patras 26504, Greece
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Abstract

The driver for this study is the observation that heating of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with electromagnetic field can offer a more efficient and cost-effective alternative in heat transfer for the production of composites. The idea of this study is twofold; CNT can work as microwave (MW) radiation susceptors and they can act as nanoreinforcements in the final system. To test these assumptions, a household oven was modified to control the curing schedule. Polymers with different CNT concentrations were prepared (0.5 and 1.0 wt %). The dispersion of the CNTs in the epoxy was achieved using shear-mixing dissolver technique. MW and conventionally cured specimens were also produced in a convection oven for reference. Thermal and mechanical tests were used as control point. A curing schedule investigation was further performed to quantify the energy and time-saving capabilities using CNT and MWs. The presence of CNTs into epoxy matrix has been proven beneficial for the shortening of the curing time. MW-cured composites showed the same degree of polymerization with the conventionally cured composites in a shorter time period and this time was reduced as the CNT concentration was increased. A good distribution of the CNT is required to avoid hot spot effects and local degradation. Mechanical performance was, in some cases, favored by the use of CNT. The benefit from the use of MWs and CNT could reach at least 40% in terms of energy needed and time without sacrificing mechanical performance. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013

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