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Recycled Polymer Composites for Structural Applications

Hugo, Annie-May (2015) Recycled Polymer Composites for Structural Applications. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis documents the development and testing of recycled, immiscible polymer blends for structural applications. The project was a Knowledge Transfer Partnership co-funded by Innovate UK and a Plastic Lumber manufacturer, who had a development contract with Network Rail. Network Rail contributed towards a permanent fatigue testing facility for full-size sleepers. Recycled plastic lumber converts lower grade, recyclate waste streams into products for decking, fencing, etc.. The aim was to create formulations capable of carrying significant in-service, dynamic loads over a wide spectrum of outdoor temperatures and conditions with 50 years minimum service life for railway sleepers. Mixed polyethylene/polypropylene recyclates were tested in iterative laboratory trials reinforced with polystyrene, mineral fillers and glass fibre. Flexural properties and impact resistance amongst other tests aided formulation design for production trials. A synergistic reinforcing effect was found between glass fibre and mica within an immiscible recycled polymer blend. Polymer blends and fibre reinforced grades were manufactured by intrusion moulding into profiles up to 2800x250x130 mm. Profiles of four trial and two production grades were tested in flexure, compression and thermal expansion. Large statistical sample sizes were required due to waste stream batch-to-batch variability. Strength and modulus were found to change with manufacturing technique, profile size, profile orientation, test type, and test parameters. Strengths were good, though lower than predicted due to premature failure. The fracture process was found to initiate at inclusions, ductile crack growth continued to a critical size followed by brittle facture. Glass fibre significantly improved strength, modulus, maximum operating temperature and thermal expansion. In 2012, two major product approvals were attained after extensive qualification testing that included fatigue testing equivalent to 20 years in service. British Board of Agrément accredited a crib earth retaining wall system. Network Rail approved for track trial sleepers made from the glass fibre reinforced grade.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: recycled plastic lumber, recycled polymer blend, 4 point bend, railway sleeper, immiscible polymer blend
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Engineering (Sheffield) > Mechanical Engineering (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Mrs Annie-May Hugo
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2015 14:39
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015 14:39
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9520

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