The high strain-rate behaviour of polymers and nanocomposites for lightweight armour applications
thesisposted on 2013-11-28, 12:12 authored by Foz Hughes
The need for efficient, lightweight armour solutions has never been so great as it is today. Increasing numbers of personnel, both military and civilian are being placed in an expanding variety of life-threatening situations, and we must recognise the responsibility to maximise their combat survivability. One way to help protect these people is to provide them with some form of armour. Advanced polymeric materials are finding an increasing range of industrial and defence applications. These materials have the potential to improve the performance of current armour systems, whilst also reducing their cost and weight. Polymers may be reinforced with the addition of nanofillers such as carbon nanotubes or graphene, to produce nanocomposites, an exciting emerging polymer technology. Nanomaterials have been shown to exhibit extraordinary strength, far higher than that of traditional armour materials. Nanocomposites have the possibility of being remarkable materials, with high strength and light weight. The work detailed in this report is an investigation into the mechanical properties of nanocomposites along with some novel blended polymer composites. Two compressive testing techniques have been used to carry out this investigation. The intermediate strain-rate Optical Drop-Weight, and the high strain-rate Split-Hopkinson Pressure Bar. The latter required some significant modifications in order to optimise it for use with low-density polymers. Ultimately, nanocomposites were found to behave virtually indistinguishably from the monolithic polymer matrices. Yield strengths and energy absorption characteristics remained inside the ordinary experimental scatter. Blended composites, in which a long chain length polymer is combined with a chemically similar polymer with a shorter chain length, proved to be more interesting. Yield strengths of these novel materials were increased over that of either constituent material, although energy absorption remained low.