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SPE Recognizes Composite Developments at Annual Auto Conference

Soy hull–based biocarbon, graphene nanoplatelets among novel components of newly developed materials.

The organizing committee for the SPE Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) honored the Best Paper Award Winners for the group’s 20th annual program at its Virtual Event, Sept. 9–11, 2020. The two authors who received the highest average ratings by conference peer reviewers out of a field of 40 contenders were honored for excellence in technical writing and will receive a plaque to commemorate their achievement. Ethan Watt, a fourth-year undergraduate nanocomposites student at the University of Guelph – Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre, won first place in this year’s ACCE Best Paper Award competition. Sandeep Tamrakar, Research Engineer at Ford Motor Co., was recognized as ACCE Best Paper Award runner up.

Influence of Soy Hull Based Biocarbon and Graphene Nanoplatelets on the Performance of Polypropyleneis the title of Ethan Watt’s award-winning paper. About this topic, the author states, “Polypropylene (PP) shows wide usage in the automotive industry, owing to its strength, chemical resistance, and processing ease. The movement away from petroleum-dependence has led to research into sustainable fillers to partly replace the PP matrix, with biocarbon (BioC) being of particular interest. However, this filler commonly diminishes mechanical strength, and to address this the compatibilizer maleic anhydride grafted polypropylene (MA-PP), as well as the nanomaterial graphene nanoplatelets (GnPs), were incorporated as a second filler.

Ethan Watt - photo (ACCE Best Paper).jpg Sandeep Tamrakar - photo (ACCE Best Paper) .jpg
Ethan Watt is an undergraduate Nanoscience student in his fourth year at the University of Guelph. Image: SPE Sandeep Tamrakar is a Research Engineer at Ford's Research and Innovation Center. Image: SPE

The optimal formulation was found to be PP/17%BioC/3%MA-PP/3%GnP, which led to mechanical and thermal properties beyond that of neat PP. Flexural strength and modulus were raised by around 28 and 59%, respectively, owing to the stiffness of the filler particles and restriction of chain mobility. This restriction in chain mobility had the added benefit of enhancing the heat deflection temperature by 28%, as well as the dimensional stability, as observed through a decrease in the coefficient of linear thermal expansion by around 17% as compared to neat PP. Overall, these biocomposites provide a direction to the improvement of PP properties while simultaneously decreasing its petroleum content, making them ideal for automotive applications.”

Water Absorption Behavior of Recycled PP and PA6 Composites Reinforced with Natural Fibers is the title of Sandeep Tamrakar’s paper that was recognized as runner-up in the ACCE Best Paper award competition. About this topic, the author states, “The recyclability of natural fiber and glass fiber reinforced polypropylene composites and glass fiber reinforced polyamide (PA) composites have been studied through injection molding and mechanical grinding.

Mechanical properties of virgin and recycled composites were assessed through flexural, tensile, and impact tests. No significant degradation in the mechanical properties of natural fiber composites was observed after subjecting the composites through several rounds of recycling and water absorption at ambient temperature in tap water.

However, severe degradation in the mechanical properties was observed for glass fiber composites. For instance, after five cycles of recycling, only 59% of flexural strength and 64% of flexural modulus was retained for glass fiber reinforced nylon composite. This is mainly due to severe attrition in glass fibers caused by recycling as evidenced by studies on fiber length distribution.

Water absorption tests conducted at room temperature and subsequent environmental conditionings such as freeze-thaw cycling and extended freeze cycling only affected nylon composites. At saturation point, water absorption for polyamide composites was 7.7% by wt. after 45 days of immersion, which significantly affected the mechanical properties. The tensile strength of the polyamide composites reduced from 88.4 MPa to 36.2 MPa, and modulus reduced from 5.6 GPa to 1.8 GPa after saturation.”

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