Progress report - ESR 9: Prashant Gangwani

date: May 14, 2022

category: News

Water-lubricated high-performance polymers

Polymers-metal contacts are an interesting choice for water lubrication in places such as ships, pumps, and hydraulic turbines, where oil lubrication can be dubious for environmental safety. This project aims to use different multiscale reinforcements in polymers to determine the best filler combinations to improve composite performance. The materials of interest include UHMWPE and PPS/PTFE blend as polymers and numerous reinforcements in different sizes. The current work plan includes studying additional additives called compatibilizers, which may yield better adhesion with fibers and blends.

We investigated powder manufacturing processes to find the optimum spot for incorporating compatibilizer into our process. UHMWPE composites with SCF as reinforcements were prepared with two compatibilizers, HDPE and LLDPE based. These compatibilizers are grafted with maleic anhydride, which imparts their polarity. However, these composites containing compatibilizers show no improvement compared to those without when tested for hardness and impact performance. The FTIR analysis of composites indicated ethanol (from the manufacturing process) to eliminate the polarity of both compatibilizers used. This withdrawal of polarity can be why no improvement was observed. A modified manufacturing process is underway where compatibilizers are introduced after removing ethanol from the system. Currently, manufacturing and testing of PPS/PTFE composites with an epoxy-based compatibilizer are performed. The epoxy-based compatibilizer has shown improvement in hardness and impact strength. Further characterization (thermal and tribological) will be carried out on these PPS/PTFE composites. Another section includes optimizing the sonication time for nano-sized fillers to reduce their aggregation in the final composite. Dynamic light scattering studies were done on spherical fillers to determine the optimum sonication time.