Long Term Durability of Glass Reinforced Composites
This dissertation discusses topics related to the performance and long-term durability of glass-reinforced composites.
The first portion of this dissertation describes work to assess the effect that post-curing has on widely used E-glass/vinyl-ester composites (E-glass/Derakane 510-A and E-glass/Derakane 8084). It is shown that post-curing can have significant positive effects on the initial material properties of glass-reinforced vinyl ester composites. Furthermore, the post-cure of 82ºC for four hours stabilizes the matrix, and as such reduces matrix-related material property evolution. By stopping or nearly stopping material property evolution due to matrix curing over time, the post-cure regime isolates and allows the study of other time-dependent effects, such as fatigue or hygrothermal degradation, and aids designers by establishing an unchanging base set of initial (undamaged) material design properties.
The second portion of this dissertation discusses the effects that mean stress and R-ratio have on the fatigue performance of the same material. Qualitative and quantitative differences are seen in the performance as a function of the loading ratio. A residual strength based life prediction model developed at Virginia Tech is applied to the fatigue data, characterizing the material under constant-amplitude loading. Three curve-fitting parameters are then used along with the model to predict variable-amplitude fatigue lives, with remarkably good results.
The final portion of the dissertation concerns the effect of hygrothermal and accelerated aging on glass-reinforced composites. A meta-study is performed on data from the literature, and a glass-degradation-based life-prediction model is applied to the data. It is seen that a static fatigue-based activation energy approach to residual strength can predict activation energies associated with glass-reinforced composite strength degradation in the case of glass-reinforced concrete quite well, predicting values of 80-100 kJ/mol, which are similar to those expected for glass dissolution via silica ring opening. The model may also hold some promise for doing the same for glass-reinforced polymer composites.