Phthalonitrile-carbon fiber composites



Phthalonitrile polymers offer promise as matrix materials for advanced composite applications. The phthalonitrile monomer is readily converted to a highly crosslinked thermosetting polymer in the presence of thermally stable organic amine catalysts. Rheometric studies were conducted to elucidate the optimum amine concentration for composite formulations. High quality composite panels were processed in an autoclave using unsized IM7 carbon fibers. Mechanical properties of the phthalonitrile/carbon composite are either better than or comparable to the state-of-the-art PMR-15 composites. Dynamic mechanical analysis reveal that samples postcured at elevated temperatures (375°C) do not exhibit a glass transition temperature up to 450°C and also retain °90% of their initial modulus at 450°C. Flame resistance of phthalonitrile/carbon composites, evaluated by cone calorimetric studies, excels over that of other polymeric composites for marine applications. The composites also show low water uptake, <1% after exposure to water for 16 months.