SBIR Phase I: Manufacturing of Double-Walled Carbon Nanotube/Rigid Rod Polymer Advanced Structural Fibers
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
409 W. Maple St., Yadkinville, NC, 27055-
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will employ innovative processing technologies to incorporate highly crystalline ultra-long double wall carbon nanotubes (DWCNTs) into poly(p-phenylene terephthalamide) (Kevlar) to prepare advanced structural fibers for ballistic protection for our law enforcement and soldiers, and structural materials for commercial and military aircraft. Current structural fibers are made from highly oriented, crystalline polymers or carbon. The polymer fibers are very tough, but their strength and stiffness is surpassed by carbon fibers, and each type has defined niche applications. The objective of this research is to utilize highly crystalline DWNT to combine these properties and prepare next-generation structural fibers with both high strength and toughness. This project addresses two of the most important deficiencies that have been limiting nanotube-polymer composites from approaching their theoretical properties: load transfer, by incorporating ultralong functionalized DWCNTs longer than the critical length in the target polymer, and nanotube alignment, by incorporating the nanotubes into the polymer prior to the highly orienting spinning process. The anticipated result of this research is the development of structural fibers that exceed the toughness of present polymer fibers and the strength of carbon fibers. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project, if successful, is the availability and mass production of ultra-high strength structural fibers with minimal cost increase over conventional fibers. This gives immediate impact in personal and vehicle ballistic protection affording mobility to personnel and vehicles; and in the commercial aerospace industry in which weight is becoming more of a premium as the cost and availability of fuel continues to impact this sector. The technology developed through this research will enhance scientific and technological understanding of how the physical and surface properties of carbon nanotubes affect the performance of polymers, not just for fibers but also in all-polymer composites. The Phase I team includes research institutions, manufacturers and end-users that are poised to take a successful program from the laboratory into production and commercialization. If successful, the technology will substantially impact law enforcement and peacekeeping missions, affording personnel higher mobility and better protection in order to successfully execute their duties, while potentially saving many lives. The commercial impact will be the use of this material for structural materials and armor, affording lighter weight, higher functionality aircraft and military vehicles, saving industry and the military money and materials.
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