Thermophysical Properties and Microstructural Changes of Composite Materials at Elevated Temperature

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Virginia Tech

Experimental methods were developed and used to quantify the behavior of composite materials during heating to support development of heat and mass transfer pyrolysis models. Methods were developed to measure specific heat capacity, kinetic parameters, microstructure changes, porosity, and permeability. Specific heat and gravimetric data for kinetic parameters were measured with a simultaneous differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) / thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA). Experimental techniques were developed for quantitative specific heat measurement based on ASTM standards with modifications for accurate measurements of decomposing materials. An environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) was used in conjunction with a heating platform to record real-time video of microstructural changes of materials during decomposition and cooling following decomposition. A gas infusion technique was devised to measure porosity, in which nitrogen was infused into the pores of permeable material samples and used to determine the open-pore porosity of the material. Permeability was measured using a standard pressure differential gas flow technique with improvements over past sealing techniques and modifications to allow for potential high temperature use.

Experimental techniques were used to measure the properties of composite construction materials commonly used in naval applications: E-glass vinyl ester laminates and end-grain balsa wood core. The simultaneous DSC/TGA was used to measure the apparent specific heat required to heat the decomposing sample. ESEM experiments captured microstructural changes during decomposition for both E-glass vinyl ester laminate and balsa wood samples. Permeability and porosity changes during decomposition appeared to depend on microstructural changes in addition to mass fraction.

permeability, porosity, decomposition, microstructure, composites