Development of energy absorption structures based on carbon nanofiber foams and shear thickening fluids
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The objective of this thesis was to engineer multifunctional nanostructures, based on carbon nanofiber foams (CNFF), to improve their energy absorption. To attain the goal, experimental research was conducted that combined the CNFF with a) commercial carbon frameworks and b) silica nanoparticles or fumed silica, dispersed on ethylene glycol, forming shear-thickening fluids (STF). The latter were used to fabricate core-shell structures in which the CNFF-STF served as a core and epoxy resin was used as the shell. The individual nanofibers were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) methods while the STF rheology was examined as a function of the strain rate. The mechanical properties of the CNFF-STF specimens and the core-shell composites were determined through cyclic compression and hardness measurements/impact tests, respectively. It was found that the CNFF/commercial frameworks combination generated structures that were too brittle for the desired application. However, the combination of CNFF-STF encased by an epoxy layer resulted in core-shell structures with significant improvements in energy absorption, up to 140% higher when compared to bare epoxy and 33% better when compared to CNFF/epoxy.
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