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Birmingham City University

School of Engineering Design & Manufacturing Systems

Christos Kalavrytinos

THE USE OF NATURAL FIBRE REINFORCED MATERIALS FOR THE FORMULA STUDENT VEHICLE

Supervisor: Laura Leyland

Academic year 2011-2012

September 2012

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

ABSTRACT
This dissertation has investigated the possibility of substituting synthetic-fibre reinforced polymers with natural-fiber reinforced ones. The aim was to develop and asses new materials suitable for application in the Formula Student vehicle. The importance of this project lies in its extension to the field of the automotive and transport industry. In order to assess the suitability of natural fibres as reinforcement material, five different sample specimens were produced and tested. The main findings of the study indicated that the mechanical properties achieved by the composites are definitely adequate for use in non-structural applications. A component for the Formula Student vehicle was also produced in order to prove that such an application is possible.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I cannot thank my supervisor, Laura Leyland, enough, for her constant support and guidance during the development of this project. Moreover, I would like to express my gratitude to David Jones, whose involvement and knowledge in the Formula Student competition in played a major role in this attempt. Thanks, also, to workshop staff and technicians Martin Reeves, David Phillips and Ishver Patel for their help with manufacturing and testing the materials. Finally, I would like to thank my parents and grandparents, my friend and colleague George Devouros and, last but not least, Madalena for their unconditional support.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos CONTENTS
ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................................ I ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ......................................................................................................... II GLOSSARY ............................................................................................................................... V LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES ............................................................................................ V 1.0 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................. 1 1.1 PROBLEM OVERVIEW ......................................................................................................... 1 1.2 AIM ................................................................................................................................... 2 1.3 OBJECTIVES ...................................................................................................................... 2 1.4 GUIDELINE METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................ 2 2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW ....................................................................................................... 3 2.1 INTRODUCTION TO POLYMER COMPOSITES .......................................................................... 3 2.1.1 Structural Behaviour ................................................................................................ 4 2.1.2 Classification of Composites .................................................................................... 5 2.1.3 Characteristics and Manufacturing Processes ........................................................ 6 2.1.4 Advantages and Disadvantages of Composites ...................................................... 9 2.1.5 Typical Applications ................................................................................................. 9 2.2 MATERIAL SUSTAINABILITY ............................................................................................... 10 2.2.1 The Need for Sustainability .................................................................................... 10 2.2.2 Sustainable Materials and their Applications ......................................................... 12 2.3 NATURAL FIBRES ............................................................................................................. 13 2.3.1 Advantages of Natural Fibres ................................................................................ 15 2.3.2 Disadvantages of Natural Fibres ........................................................................... 16 2.3.3 Pre-treatments ....................................................................................................... 16 2.3.4 Processing techniques ........................................................................................... 17 2.4 POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS IN FORMULA STUDENT ............................................................... 17 2.4.1 The Challenges ...................................................................................................... 18 2.4.2 Application Selection .............................................................................................. 18 2.4.3 Matrix and Fibre Selection ..................................................................................... 19 3.0 METHODOLOGY .............................................................................................................. 19 3.1 INITIAL TASKS .................................................................................................................. 20 3.2 PRODUCTION OF MATERIAL SPECIMENS ............................................................................ 21 3.3 PREPARATION AND TESTING OF SPECIMENS...................................................................... 24 3.3.1 Installation & Testing of Strain Gauges ................................................................. 24 3.3.2 Equipment & Testing Procedure ............................................................................ 24 3.3.3 Tensile Testing ....................................................................................................... 25

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos
3.4 PRODUCTION OF FULL SCALE COMPONENT MOULD .......................................................... 26 4.0 RESULTS .......................................................................................................................... 29 4.1 TENSILE TEST.................................................................................................................. 29 4.2 ANALYSIS OF RESULTS..................................................................................................... 35 4.3 PRODUCTION OF FULL SCALE COMPONENT....................................................................... 37 5.0 DISCUSSION .................................................................................................................... 38 5.1 COMPARISON WITH SIMILAR PREVIOUS WORK .................................................................... 38 5.2 GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ................................................................................................ 39 5.2.1 The Effect of Resin-to-Fibre Ratio ......................................................................... 39 5.2.2 The Interface between Resin and Fibre ................................................................. 40 5.3 SELECTING THE MOST SUITABLE MATERIAL ........................................................................ 40 5.3.1 Coir composites (Class 3 & 4) ............................................................................... 40 5.3.2 Jute cloth and twine (Class 5) ................................................................................ 41 5.3.3 Woven jute cloth (Class 1 & 2) .............................................................................. 42 5.3.4 Selection ................................................................................................................ 44 5.3.5 Produced part ........................................................................................................ 44 6.0 CONCLUSIONS ................................................................................................................ 45 6.1 MAIN FINDINGS ............................................................................................................... 45 6.2 LIMITATIONS OF PROJECT................................................................................................. 46 6.3 ACHIEVEMENT OF AIMS .................................................................................................... 46 6.4 APPLICATION TO SIMILAR PROBLEMS ................................................................................ 47 7.0 RECOMMENDATIONS ..................................................................................................... 48 7.1 SHORT-TERM ................................................................................................................... 48 7.2 LONG-TERM ..................................................................................................................... 48 LIST OF REFERENCES ......................................................................................................... 49 BIBLIOGRAPHY ..................................................................................................................... 50

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Glossary
CSA Coir E FS GJ GPa GRP MPa PP PVA RTM UTS Cross Sectional Area Coconut fibre Young's Modulus of Elasticity Formula Student Giga-Joules Giga-Pascal Glass Reinforced Plastic Mega-Pascal Polypropylene Polyvinyl Alcohol (Release Agent) Resin Transfer Moulding Ultimate Tensile Strength

List of Figures and Tables


Figure 1, Guideline methodology ............................................................................... 3 Figure 2, Wood grain (Wikipedia) .............................................................................. 4 Figure 3, Typical reinforcements (Campbell, 2010) ................................................... 5 Figure 4, Influence of reinforcement type and quantity on performance (Campbell, 2010) ......................................................................................................................... 6 Figure 5, Major polymer matrix composite manufacturing processes (Campbell, 2010) ......................................................................................................................... 9 Figure 6, Energy audit for 250.000km car (Ashby, 2012) ......................................... 10 Figure 7, Dependence on nonrenewable materials (Ashby, 2012)........................... 11 Figure 8, Mercedes A-200 Natural Fibre Thermoplastics (www.fao.org) .................. 13 Figure 9, Energy for production of various fibres (Cristaldi et al.2012) ..................... 16 Figure 10, Methodology ........................................................................................... 20 Figure 11, Cutting the reinforcement. ...................................................................... 22 Figure 12, Weighting the reinforcement. .................................................................. 22 Figure 13, Preparing the surface. ............................................................................ 23 Figure 14, Mixing reinforcement and resin. .............................................................. 23 Figure 15, Installation and testing of strain gauges. ................................................. 24 Figure 16, Testing equipment setup. ....................................................................... 25 Figure 17, Strain gauge and grips. .......................................................................... 26 Figure 18, Preparation of surface of seat. ................................................................ 27 Figure 19, Application of gelcoat. ............................................................................ 27 Page | v

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos Figure 20, Layup of fibreglass and resin. ................................................................. 28 Figure 21, Preparation of mould for first release. ..................................................... 28 Figure 22, Example of acquired data (1.1). .............................................................. 30 Figure 23, Results for specimen 1.2. ....................................................................... 30 Figure 24, Results for specimen 1.3. ....................................................................... 31 Figure 25, Results for specimen 1.4. ....................................................................... 31 Figure 26, Results for specimen 2.1. ....................................................................... 32 Figure 27, Results for specimen 2.2. ....................................................................... 32 Figure 28, Results for specimen 2.3. ....................................................................... 33 Figure 29, Results for specimen 3.1. ....................................................................... 33 Figure 30, Results for specimen 3.2. ....................................................................... 34 Figure 31, Results for specimen 4.1. ....................................................................... 34 Figure 32, Results for specimen 5.1. ....................................................................... 35 Figure 33, Production of driver's seat. ..................................................................... 37 Figure 34, Finished component (front). .................................................................... 38 Figure 35, Finished component (back). ................................................................... 38 Figure 36, Coir fibre composite structure. ................................................................ 41 Figure 37, Jute cloth and string specimen. .............................................................. 42 Figure 38, Class 1 specimen fibre density. .............................................................. 43 Figure 39, Class 2 specimen fibre density. .............................................................. 43 Figure 40, Air cavities in material............................................................................. 43

Table 1, Fibre properties (www.fao.com) ................................................................. 14 Table 2, Laminate test plates. ................................................................................. 21 Table 3, Tensile test specimens. ............................................................................. 21 Table 4, Tensile test specimens. ............................................................................. 29 Table 5, Tensile stress results. ................................................................................ 36 Table 6, Material Cost. ............................................................................................ 37 Table 7, Cotton textile composite properties. ........................................................... 39

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Problem Overview
For the past decade there has been an increase in the use of sophisticated composite materials that has extended beyond extreme and industrial applications such as the space programs and has reached the everyday user. Especially in the automotive and motorsport fields, there is a struggle for making lighter and more durable components in order to increase performance. One of the main drivers of this rush are the technological developments in the Formula 1 Grand Prix where novel applications are tested for performance and reliability. The use of composite materials extends from simple aerodynamic components to suspension and frame load bearing components. This has led to composites being used in consumer vehicles for the sake of weight reduction and improved handling characteristics. Birmingham City University participates in the Formula Student (FS) competition with a racing car being built every year. The materials used at the moment are metal for the frame, aluminium for some precision components (i.e. steering knuckle) and to some extent fibreglass or Glass Reinforced Plastic for the nose cone and side pods. All these materials currently in use for the vehicle are mainly chosen because of their availability, low cost and ease of use in the workshop. Another factor would be that a simulation validation before production of a component would be easier with more common materials since performing simulations with composite materials can be challenging. However, this project attempts to look into the possibility of replacing a number of components with new ones made of more sustainable materials. A limit to what materials can be used in the student workshop in order to make the parts exists, limiting factors being mostly issues with equipment, know-how, space, time and, of course, budget constraints. This leads to the consideration of more sustainable and environmentally friendly composite materials that could be used to manufacture vehicle components in the university workshop.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

1.2 Aim
To investigate whether natural fibres can be an alternative to man-made fibres in reinforced polymers by experimenting with Formula Student components and applications.

1.3 Objectives
In order to successfully complete this project the following objectives must form the backbone of the tasks involved:

Research for possible applications of composite materials; Select a vehicle component and list the design requirements Assess and select a number of natural fibres Produce and test material specimens according to standards Produce and test full scale component Evaluate results Provide recommendations for further work

1.4 Guideline Methodology


The following methodology is adopted as a general guideline in order to carry out this project. This approach is chosen due to lack of scientific and academic data on materials similar to the ones considered herein. It is subject to changes depending on the flow of the project.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 1, Guideline methodology

2.0 Literature Review


2.1 Introduction to polymer composites
Between 1940 and 1960, there was rapid development of new polymers pushed by need of cheap and easy to form materials. However, the typical strength and stiffness of polymers cannot easily satisfy the structural requirements of performance components. This created a need for some kind of reinforcement of the pure polymer. Examples of reinforcement used today include glass, carbon and natural fibres. Thus, materials like glass-fibre reinforced plastic (i.e. GRP or fibreglass) are named composites. The idea of creating composite materials dates back thousands of years when man started building houses from straw reinforced mud and then invented laminated and composite bows. Page | 3

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos In 1935, Owens Corning invented fibreglass by adding glass fibres to polymers, thus, marks the beginning of the Fibre Reinforced Polymers industry. (www.owenscorning.com)

From that point on, the second World War and the industrial advancements, as well as, the creation of new polymers and resins pushed the development of new manufacturing processes. This also resulted in composites being used in more common applications apart from military ones. Carbon fibre was also introduced in 1958 by Roger Bacon. (acswebcontent.acs.org)

2.1.1 Structural Behaviour In order to understand how composites behave an explanation of their structure can be helpful. Materials such as metals, polymers and ceramics usually have a homogenous microstructure and therefore have the same mechanical properties whichever way they are stressed. They are called isotropic due to their isotropic behaviour. With polymer composites, the direction and placement of the reinforcement has an effect on the behaviour of the material. (Kocks, 2000) For example, wood is a natural composite which exhibits anisotropic behaviour due to the direction of the grain. Therefore, the mechanical properties of anisotropic materials depend on the direction of load and are different in all directions.

Figure 2, Wood grain (Wikipedia)

It is important to take that into consideration when designing with composites and to ensure that the loads the component is subjected to are positioned in the best possible way.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos Under load, the interface between the fibre and matrix is subjected under shear loading as suggested by Campbell (2010). Thus, it plays a major role in the mechanical properties of the material.

2.1.2 Classification of Composites Depending on the type of reinforcement and placement of the fibres, composites can be classified into groups. The types of fibres are usually continuous (with preferred orientation) or discontinuous, with the latter having a relatively low length-to-diameter ratio. Typical continuous fibres, as illustrated in Fig. 3, are unidirectional, woven cloth and wound fibres and discontinuous fibres are divided to chopped and random mat. According to Campbell (2010), producing a component by laminating cloths of continuous fibre reinforcement allows the fibre volume to be as high as 70% due to the small diameter of the fibres. He continues to stress that fibres produce high stress composites due to their lack of surface defects compared to a material produced in bulk. The influence of the quantity and type of reinforcement used is shown in Fig. 4.

Figure 3, Typical reinforcements (Campbell, 2010)

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 4, Influence of reinforcement type and quantity on performance (Campbell, 2010)

There is a practical limit to the amount of resin that can be used since a resin volume less than 30% would have an effect to the quality of bonding and the interface of the reinforcement and the matrix. It is clear from the graph, that for a high performance application the woven cloth is one of the best choices since it can withstand loads at different directions and therefore has a wider use. However, there are applications where a continuous aligned composite would perform better, such as in tension or bending in one axis. This can be attributed to the amount of fibres that are running along the axis of load. Theoretically with a 0/90 woven cloth, the amount of fibres would be half when compared to a unidirectional cloth. In applications where a component is not a high load bearing member (e.g. car bonnet), the cost can be kept low by using a discontinuous type of reinforcement.

2.1.3 Characteristics and Manufacturing Processes Polymer composites are made by combining a matrix with a reinforcement material. Typical matrices include thermosets, thermoplastics, resins and other materials such Page | 6

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos as the mud used in the adobe bricks mentioned earlier. Fibres are mostly used as reinforcement with fibre glass and carbon fibre being the most common. The matrix, also called the continuous phase, helps in maintaining the correct orientation and spacing and protects them from the elements (Campbell, 2010). The different manufacturing processes are listed below: Open Mould - Hand Layup An open mould with a reasonably smooth surface is used as a base shape. Several steps of preparing the mould in order to ensure a proper detachment of the produced part are taken (i.e. waxing, release agents, etc.). Then polyester or epoxy resin are most commonly used and reinforcement fibres are carefully placed, usually in layers called laminas, while a roller is used to consolidate the two and also remove the excess resin and any air bubbles that might have formed. The part is then left to cure and is later removed from the mould and any excess edges are trimmed of. This is a very simple process and does not require any special equipment and is also used to make fibreglass moulds from a component. The merits of using this process is its simplicity, low cost in materials and equipment, and the wide availability of the ingredients. Moreover, different matrices or reinforcements can be used in order to produce a component that satisfies various requirements. (www.performancecomposites.com) Vacuum Bagging This process is similar to the Open Mould one with the addition of a plastic film bag that covers the mould and with the help of a vacuum pump the pressure build up and presses on the open face of the part to ensure proper consolidation of the layers until the component cures. In some cases, a heating element is introduced in order to reduce the curing process time. Again, this is a fairly simple process except the fact that a special bag, piping and a vacuum pump are required. (www.performancecomposites.com) Prepreg This process uses a two sided mould with a rigid bottom and an elastic membrane on top. Sheets or pre-impregnated fabric are used instead of mixing fibres with resin. Vacuum is applied and the mould is inserted into an autoclave with elevated temperature and pressure. This process has the advantage of a higher fibre to resin Page | 7

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos volume while still resulting in a well consolidated component. This gives the material increased mechanical properties. (www.performancecomposites.com) Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM Another process with a two-piece mould where the reinforcement fabric is placed on its own in the mould cavity and then the resin is introduced via various methods. A vacuum infusion is commonly used in which the vacuum created in the cavity slowly draws resin in while excess resin is pumped out. (www.performancecomposites.com)

Overview It is obvious that the latter processes require more equipment and resources to produce test specimens or components. The major differences in the quality of the produced components made with different processes are:

Fibre to Resin ratio: A higher ratio tends to give better mechanical properties if the matrix and reinforcement is properly consolidated. This ratio is easier to control and keep high while using the more complex processes such as vacuum infusion.

Layer consolidation: Applying pressure while the part cures can result in better consolidation with reduced amounts of resin. Consistency: A hand layup method is susceptible to differences in structure consistency over the area of the component, thus, creating weak spots. It also has an effect in the predictability of the mechanical properties.

The following graph (Fig. 5) maps the possible manufacturing processes according to the matrix and reinforcement used.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 5, Major polymer matrix composite manufacturing processes (Campbell, 2010)

2.1.4 Advantages and Disadvantages of Composites Some very apparent advantages of composites relative to this project include high strength, light weight, corrosion resistance and the ability to position the reinforcement in a way that helps increase strength in a particular direction. On the other hand, they can have low strength in the out-of-plane direction and can be prone to impact damage or de-lamination. Moreover, there is a high cost of raw material and fabrication.

2.1.5 Typical Applications The main factor for increasing the use of composite materials in the transportation industry is the reduction of weight of vehicles. This can greatly affect the performance and also the fuel consumption. Ashby (2012) gives a good example of how choosing the material for a car bumper can affect the energy usage involved in the vehicle's lifecycle. Figure 6 indicates that while more energy is required to manufacture a lightweight car bumper, due to the fuel consumption savings that result from a lighter vehicle mass, the overall energy used throughout the vehicle's lifecycle is considerably less than with a traditional steel bumper.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 6, Energy audit for 250.000km car (Ashby, 2012)

This effect would be much more important with a vehicle that travels more during its lifecycle (e.g. a commercial airplane) and the impact in fuel consumption and pollution would be tremendous. Apart from fuel saving, composite components are used in applications where a low vehicle mass is important to its performance, such as in motorsports. Usually, cost is not such an important factor when it comes to competitive motorsports. Therefore, fibreglass and carbon fibre components are now common and have also appeared in consumer automotive applications. There are, of course, other factors that make composite materials suitable for certain applications (e.g. non-magnetic for anti-mine vessels) but they are not direvtly related to this project.

2.2 Material Sustainability


2.2.1 The Need for Sustainability Ashby (2012) has listed the natural resources available to us as: energy, minerals, land, water and air. Apart from minerals, the remaining resources can be considered renewable since minerals have are a finite resource. He gives a figure of 21% of the generally available energy as consumed to produce the materials. Of course, there is a difference between how much energy is needed to produce aluminium from mineral ore and to produce wood for structural purposes. Using materials derived from a non renewable source is at the moment inevitable. However, there is a need to conserve these non renewable resources otherwise our future lies in danger. Figure 7 illustrates the increase of our dependence on nonrenewable materials over the course of mankind. Page | 10

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 7, Dependence on nonrenewable materials (Ashby, 2012)

It is apparent that the use of nonrenewable materials is increasing exponentially along with the use of manmade materials such as polymers. Ashby is right to say that using materials costs energy. The problem is that a great amount of that required energy does not come from renewable sources. Finding renewable materials is a challenge that arises. Such a material has to: come from a resource that is vast enough to not affect supply (e.g. sea water); be recreated in perfect form after use (e.g. ice in the arctic); or regrow as fast as it is used (e.g. the biosphere). (Ashby, 2012)

Since the first two are not common, the importance lies in the third aspect. There is an abundance of natural renewable materials that have been used for thousands of years. Some prime examples are wood, wool , skin, etc. However, there is also a Page | 11

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos need for sustaining the quantity of the natural materials in order keep production higher than demand and use.

2.2.2 Sustainable Materials and their Applications The aim of this project is to investigate whether it is possible to replace conventional materials used in the Formula Vehicle and, in extent, in the transportation industry, with more sustainable materials. The use of natural fibres for technical composite applications has recently been the subject of intensive research in Europe. Many automotive components are already produced in natural composites, mainly based on polyester or polypropylene (PP) and fibres like flax, hemp or sisal. The adoption of natural fibre composites in this industry is lead by motives of a) price b) weight reduction and c) marketing ('processing renewable resources') rather than technical demands. The range of products is restricted to interior and non-structural components like door upholstery or rear shelves. There are, in fact, many vehicle manufacturers that have been using natural fibres as a reinforcement in their polymer composites for over a decade. Daimler Chrysler AG and the VAG Group (VW, Porsche, Audi) have used them extensively for non structural components (Fig. 8). (www.compositesworld.com) Of course, in some cases, only the reinforcement comes from a renewable source while the matrix remains a typical man-made polymer. However, natural resins such as Furan have been combined with natural fibres. The use of natural fibres in automobiles has largely been restricted to upholstery applications because of the traditional shortcomings of natural fibre composites, low impact strength and poor moisture resistance. Recent research results show that there is a large potential in improving those two properties. This potential can be found in either in pre-treatments of the fibres or in improving the chemistry while impregnating the fibres with the matrix material.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 8, Mercedes A-200 Natural Fibre Thermoplastics (www.fao.org)

2.3 Natural Fibres


The use of composite materials dates from centuries ago, and it all started with natural fibres. During the last decade there has been a renewed interest in the natural fibre as a substitute for glass, motivated by potential advantages of weight saving, lower raw material price, and 'thermal recycling' or the ecological advantages of using resources which are renewable. On the other hand natural fibres have their shortcomings, and these have to be solved in order to be competitive with glass. Natural fibres have lower durability and lower strength than glass fibres. However, recently developed fibre treatments have improved these properties considerably.

The vegetable world is full of examples where cells or groups of cells are 'designed' for strength and stiffness. A sparing use of resources has resulted in optimisation of the cell functions. Cellulose is a natural polymer with high strength and stiffness per weight, and it is the building material of long fibrous cells. These cells can be found in the stem, the leaves or the seeds of plants. Table 1 is a comparison of typical glass fibres with respect to the most common natural fibres.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos Table 1, Fibre properties (www.fao.com)

Bast fibres (flax, hemp, jute, kenaf, ramie) In general, the bast consists of a wood core surrounded by a stem. Within the stem there are a number of fibre bundles, each containing individual fibre cells or filaments. The filaments are made of cellulose and hemicellulose, bonded together by a matrix, which can be lignin or pectin. The pectin surrounds the bundle thus holding them on to the stem. The pectin is removed during the retting process. This enables separation of the bundles from the rest of the stem (scutching). After fibre bundles are impregnated with a resin during the processing of a composite, the weakest part in the material is the lignin between the individual cells. Especially in the case of flax, a much stronger composite is obtained if the bundles are pre-treated in a way that the cells are separated, by removing the lignin between the cells. Boiling in alkali is one of the methods to separate the individual cells. Flax delivers strong and stiff fibres and it can be grown in temperate climates. The fibres can be spun to fine yarns for textile (linen). Other bast fibres are grown in warmer climates. The most common is jute, which is cheap, and has a reasonable strength and resistance to rot. Jute is mainly used for packaging (sacks and bales). As far as composite applications are concerned, flax and hemp are two fibres that have replaced glass in a number of components, especially in the German automotive industries. Leaf fibres (sisal, abaca, palm) In general the leaf fibres are coarser than the bast fibres. Applications are ropes, and coarse textiles. Within the total production of leaf fibres, sisal is the most important. It is obtained from the agave plant. The stiffness is relatively high and it is often applied as binder twines.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos As far as composites is concerned, sisal is often applied with flax in hybrid mats, to provide good permeability when the mat has to be impregnated with a resin. In some interior applications sisal is preferred because of its low level of smell compared to fibres like flax. Especially manufacturing processes at increased temperatures fibres like flax can cause smell. Seed fibres (cotton, coir, kapok) Cotton is the most common seed fibre and is used for textile all over the world. Other seed fibres are applied in less demanding applications such as stuffing of upholstery. Coir is an exception to this. Coir is the fibre of the coconut husk, it is a thick and coarse but durable fibre. Applications are ropes, matting and brushes. With the rise of composite materials there is a renewed interest for natural fibres. Their moderate mechanical properties restrain the fibres from using them in high-tech applications, but for many reasons they can compete with glass fibres.

2.3.1 Advantages of Natural Fibres Low specific weight, which results in a higher specific strength and stiffness than glass. It is a renewable resource, the production requires little energy (Fig. 9). Thermal recycling is possible, where glass causes problems in combustion furnaces. Good thermal and acoustic insulating properties Friendly processing, no wear of tooling, no skin irritation. Producible with low investment at low cost, which makes the material an interesting product for low-wage countries. (Ashby, 2012)

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 9, Energy for production of various fibres (Cristaldi et al.2012)

2.3.2 Disadvantages of Natural Fibres Lower strength properties, particularly its impact strength. Lower durability, fibre treatments can improve this considerably. Moisture absorption, which causes swelling of the fibres. Variable quality, depending on unpredictable influences such as weather. Price can fluctuate by harvest results or agricultural politics. (Ashby, 2012)

2.3.3 Pre-treatments Treatment is required to turn just-harvested plants into fibres suitable for composite processing. For example in case of flax, the first step is retting. It is a controlled rotting process to get rid of the pectin that connects the fibre bundles with the wood core of the stem. After the retting, hemicellulose and lignin can be removed by hydro-thermolysis or alkali reactions. The hemicellulose is responsible for a great deal of the moisture absorption. The lignin is the connecting cement between the individual fibre cells. Although the lignin builds the bundle, in a composite it will be the weakest link. During harvesting, pre-treatments and processing, the handling plays an important role. Failure spots on the fibres can be induced, which cause a reduction of the tensile strength.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos 2.3.4 Processing techniques In principle, the production techniques for natural fibre composites can be similar to those for glass fibres. Exceptions to this are techniques used where continuous fibres are used like pultrusion (a yarn has to be made first) or where fibres are chopped like in spray-up or prepreg preparation. Two examples of techniques are discussed below.

Resin Transfer Moulding - Vacuum injection Resin transfer moulding or vacuum injection are clean, closed mould techniques. Dry fibres are put in the mould, then the mould is closed by another mould or by just a bagging film and resin is injected. Either with over-pressure on the injection side or vacuum at the other side the fibres are impregnated. Tailored lay-ups and high fibre volume contents are possible. Therefore, the technique enables the manufacture of very large products with high mechanical properties. A difference compared to glass is the springy character of the natural fibres. To enable proper fibre placement and high fibre volume contents, a preforming step may be required. Preforming is pressing the mats with a small amount of binder (like H2O) into a more compact shape. Sheet Moulding Compound An important difference with glass sheet moulding compound is the production of the prepreg. Normally prepregs are made by chopping the glass strands and dropping them on a film of resin-filler compound. This preparation will not work for natural fibres since the chopping is very difficult. Other techniques are being developed. An appropriate method to get a layer of fibres with an anisotropic orientation which is loose enough to provide sufficient fibre flow during the moulding process depends on the type of fibre and on the way in which the raw material is being supplied.

2.4 Possible Applications in Formula Student


Research has showed that polymer composites can greatly improve the performance, fuel economy or both when used on a vehicle. However, there are some limiting factors when natural fibres are considered as an alternative to synthetic fibres. Apart from process variability due to different harvest quality, there is evidence of a problematic interface between the reinforcement surface and the matrix. Page | 17

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos 2.4.1 The Challenges According to John Et. al. (2008) and Kalia et al.(2009): "Hydrophilic nature of fibre surface, due to the presence of pendant hydroxyl and polar groups in various constituents, which lead to poor adhesion between fibres and hydrophobic matrix polymers. The hydrophilic nature can lead to swelling and maceration of the fibres. Furthermore, moisture content decreases significantly the fibres' mechanical properties."

Therefore the choice of the fibre and matrix is very important and creating a composite that exhibits similar or better mechanical properties than one with synthetic reinforcement remains a challenge. However, in applications where structural performance is not of great importance, such as the ones seen in the German automotive industry (e.g. door panels, etc.) these materials could be a successful candidate in replacing nonrenewable ones. The availability of raw materials and possible manufacturing processes has to be kept in mind while choosing possible materials for component manufacture in the university's workshop.

2.4.2 Application Selection Research shows that the use of natural fibres a reinforcement in polymers has not matured enough to produce components with adequate strength for load-bearing applications. Therefore, a good starting point for this project would be to manufacture such a component for the Formula Student Vehicle. Potential parts include the nosecone, the aerodynamic side-pods, the underside skirt and the driver's seat. After reviewing the 2012 Formula Student competition rules, the choice was made to manufacture the seat based on an existing design. This includes manufacturing a mould from the existing component. The mould is to be made with glass fibre and polyester resin. The original carbon fibre part is based on the rules and is designed for a 95th percentile male template with a weight of 77kg (Rule B9.3.9). It has to be noted at this point that ensuring the correct design of the component is not the main purpose of this project. The members of the formula team are responsible for designing and testing the vehicle components. The main reason for this is the time constraint in this project, as well as, the limited knowledge and interaction with the team which was not possible since this project is being carried out during the summer when the team members are mostly absent. Page | 18

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos 2.4.3 Matrix and Fibre Selection Out of the various natural fibres, the most easily available ones (for small quantities) in the UK at the moment are jute and coir. Jute cloth and twisted yarn are widely available mainly due to their use in potato sacks and other applications where rot and corrosion are an issue. Coir fibres are used in furniture and upholstery as a filling material. Baiardo et al., (2004) mention that the use of randomly orientated fibres as reinforcement results in low reinforcing efficiency. An alternative to that is a woven fabric where a set of long threads are interlaced with crossing threads. Such a fabric allows the orientation of the reinforcement fabrics which, as with synthetic fibre cloths, gives the advantage of increasing the strength in a required direction. For this reason, it is expected that a woven fibre cloth laminate will exhibit better mechanical properties than a randomly orientated fibre mat. The type of matrix used is also limited to its availability and equipment available at the workshop. Polyester and epoxy resins are widely available and easy to use in a hand layup process.

Taking all the above into consideration, woven jute fabric, coir fibres and epoxy resin were chosen as the reinforcement and matrix components for the production of various material specimens. Epoxy was chosen mainly due to its superior mechanical properties and lack of odour even though it is substantially more expensive than polyester resin.

3.0 Methodology
It should be noted that while adequate knowledge exists for such materials produced with complex processes (e.g. injection moulding) the initial search for information on processes that could be used in the university workshop provided data that were not adequate or scientifically proven. Thus, the most appropriate is producing material specimens in the same process that is going to be used to manufacture any components for the vehicle, and then testing them in order to study their properties and behaviour. From there, the best suited material will be selected in order to manufacture the component and investigate if it could be used as an alternative to the existing material.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos Throughout this process there are several feedback loops that can aid in revisiting a problems that might arise; something that is almost certain with a project of this nature.

Figure 10, Methodology

3.1 Initial Tasks


The first tasks of this projects are to research similar work in order to gain a sufficient understanding on composite materials and sustainable design. This is done in order to be able to investigate alternative materials for Formula Student applications and automotive applications in general. After enough knowledge is gathered, a component is chosen in order to set some basic requirements for new potential materials. In this case, the driver's seat was chosen.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

3.2 Production of Material Specimens


In order to investigate the properties of a new material, test specimens have to be produced and tested. Then the results are analysed and verified. Similar work has been carried out by Raftoyiannis (2012) at the Department of Civil Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens. This was done in order to develop and test the performance of composite panels reinforced with cotton fibres. The nature of this project is quite different from the cotton fibre project since it does not only involve specimen testing. However, similar specimen production and testing processes have been used, all of which comply with the most recent Standards.

More specifically, two types of natural fibres have been examined: Jute and Coir with the use of an epoxy resin as the matrix. Five different laminate materials, listed in Table 2, were produced in five 300x300mm plates. From these plates several test specimens were cut and machined to standard specifications (250x25mm). Table 3 shows the test specimens produced from each laminate plate.

Table 2, Laminate test plates.

Table 3, Tensile test specimens.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos The specimen plate production was carried out according to ISO 1268-1: 2001(E) and ISO 1268-2: 2001(E). The Figures bellow illustrate the process that was followed which is mentioned step by step below: cutting of the cloth laminas to desired width (Fig. 11); weighting of reinforcement in order to calculate required resin (Fig. 12); preparation of surface with release agent (Fig. 13); mixing the resin and applying the cloth and resin while using a roller for consolidation (Fig. 14); curing for a minimum of 48 hours according to resin manufacturer recommendations (not shown)

Figure 11, Cutting the reinforcement.

Figure 12, Weighting the reinforcement.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 13, Preparing the surface.

Figure 14, Mixing reinforcement and resin.

During the production, there as an effort to keep the resin-to-fibre weight ratio as low as possible but still maintaining proper wetting and consolidation of the laminas. The amount of resin used was a result of how much resin was absorbed by the fibres. The challenge with the hand and open mould layup methods of production is that controlling the amount of excess resin is difficult. Moreover, a large amount of resin ends up at the bottom of the plate due to gravity. A more efficient way of removing excess resin apart from using a roller is using the vacuum bag technique which was not possible due to lack of equipment.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

3.3 Preparation and Testing of Specimens


3.3.1 Installation & Testing of Strain Gauges After the specimen plates cured and machined to produce test specimens according to Standards, strain gauges were applied and tested as shown in Fig. 15

Figure 15, Installation and testing of strain gauges.

3.3.2 Equipment & Testing Procedure The tensile test was performed on the Testometric 500 machine and the data was acquired through a computer. The test had to be conducted while following as many British Standard recommendations as possible. The standard followed in this case was BS2782-10:1977 and is explained bellow.

3.3.2.1 Data required The aim of this test is to record the stress-strain curve under tension in order to calculate the modulus of elasticity of each material. Strain gauges also have to be applied on the specimens in order to provide strain measurements used to determine the Poissons ratio (two strain gauges required to measure strain two directions). Strain gauges can be applied on only one test specimen for each material (e.g. two strain gauges for specimen 1.1, two for 2.1, two for 3.1, two for 4.1 and two for 5.1).

3.3.2.2 Preconditioning The test specimens must be conditioned for at least 16 hours at 23 C and 50% relative humidity (European Standard EN 62). Page | 24

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos 3.3.2.3 Testing Speeds The testing speed is the rate of separation of the test specimen grips when the machine is running empty. For this type of specimen (Type II) the recommended testing speed when measuring elongations and/or when determining the moduli of elasticity in tension is 2mm/min. 3.3.2.4 Operating Technique Place the test specimen in the grips, taking care to align the longitudinal axis of the testing machine. Tighten the grips evenly and firmly to avoid all slipping of the test specimen. Discard and replace any test specimens which have: Slipped in the grips; Broken in the grips or at a distance less than 10mm from the grips; Undergone testing under faulty operating conditions, or have given manifestly inconsistent results for evident reasons.

3.3.3 Tensile Testing A picture of the setup used during testing is shown in Fig. 16 while Fig. 17 is a closeup of the grips and strain gauges setup.

Figure 16, Testing equipment setup. Page | 25

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 17, Strain gauge and grips.

During the testing, all the data were saved on the computer in order to be analysed later.

3.4 Production of Full Scale Component Mould


A mould was created using an existing seat as the basis. This was done by preparing the surface of the existing part and then producing a fibreglass part from that shape using a polyester resin and chopped strand mat cloth. The procedure followed is explained below: preparation of surface - waxing and release agent (Fig. 18); application of gelcoat and curing (Fig. 19); hand layup of resin and fibreglass chopped strand mat (Fig. 20); curing of component for a minimum of 48 hours (not shown); extraction of moulding from mould and trimming (not shown); and waxing and application of release agent for the moulds first release (Fig. 21).

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 18, Preparation of surface of seat.

Figure 19, Application of gelcoat.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 20, Layup of fibreglass and resin.

Figure 21, Preparation of mould for first release.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

4.0 Results
This section of the report presents the results obtained by testing the material specimens. Moreover, an analysis of the results including any observations made during testing follows. The achievement in comparison with the stated objectives and initial predictions is discussed along with the applicability of the methodology to other problems.

4.1 Tensile Test


The test specimens were numbered as shown in Table 4 and their thickness and width were measured using a Vernier calliper in order to calculate their crosssectional areas. Table 4, Tensile test specimens.

An example of the data acquired during the test is shown in Fig. 22. This specific rest was run on specimen number 1.1 with two test runs. The first one is represented by the blue line and the second and final run is shown in red. The need for two runs arose with the premature failure of a specimen under relatively low stress. Therefore, this approach was adopted in order to at least the initial slope of the stress-strain graph which in theory should remain linear up to the breaking point with a brittle material such as this. The small breaks and steps in the line of the graph were caused by the momentary pause of load application in order to record the strain gauge readings at regular intervals. The data acquired are presented in the figures below.

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Figure 22, Example of acquired data (1.1).

Figure 23, Results for specimen 1.2. Page | 30

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 24, Results for specimen 1.3.

Figure 25, Results for specimen 1.4. Page | 31

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 26, Results for specimen 2.1.

Figure 27, Results for specimen 2.2. Page | 32

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 28, Results for specimen 2.3.

Figure 29, Results for specimen 3.1. Page | 33

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 30, Results for specimen 3.2.

Figure 31, Results for specimen 4.1. Page | 34

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 32, Results for specimen 5.1.

4.2 Analysis of Results


It is apparent from the graphs that the materials exhibit brittle behaviour and similar results in their class (e.g. Class 1: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4). During testing no problems with slippage at the grips occurred. The stress strain curves and measurement of the cross-sectional-area (CSA) of the specimens were then used in order to calculate the Young's Modulus of Elasticity (E) and Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS). In order to calculate the Young's Modulus, a certain point of known load and known elongation was chosen from a relatively linear point of the curve. The elongation was translated from length (mm) to percentage length for this calculation. The UTS was calculated by dividing the load at peak (breaking point) by the CSA of the specimens. The calculated results are provided in Table 5. This table is quite revealing in several ways. This is due to the fact that not only the mechanical properties but also the weight of each material type is stated. This can provide a clearer picture of the results with respect to structural efficiency and specific strength. Page | 35

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos Table 5, Tensile stress results.

Out of the five classes of composites, the highest results for the Young's Modulus (1.42-1.51 GPa) and UTS (41.7-50.4 MPa) were achieved by class 1. This material class consisted of 5 layers of jute cloth (200gr/m) with a resin-to-fibre ratio of 3.41. Class 2 closely follows with Young's Moduli that range from 1.38 to 1.45 GPA and UTS of 33.6 to 45.4 MPa. However, it must me noted that these classes of materials are significantly heavier than class 3,4 and 5, in some cases double in weight. The single most striking observation to emerge from the data comparison between class 1 and 2 was that a higher resin-to-fibre ratio resulted in increased rigidity and UTS with class 1 averaging at 1.47 GPa (E) and 46.2 MPa (UTS) while class 2 had an average of 1.43 GPa (E) and 39.9 MPa (UTS). Class two specimens consisted of five layers of jute cloth of higher weight per unit area (250gr/m) and a resin-to-fibre ratio of 2.2. The comparison of results for weight and UTS (e.g. class 1 compared to class 4) suggests strong evidence of a correlation and direct proportionality. More specifically, class 1 is nearly double the weight and has roughly double the UTS than class 4. However, if the Young's Moduli of the two classes are compared, it is evident that class 4 has a significantly higher modulus with respect to its weight compared to class 1. This proves that the values for E and UTS are not strictly linked. The cost of raw materials is shown in Table 6.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos Table 6, Material Cost.

4.3 Production of Full Scale Component


After carefully reviewing the results, the most suitable material for manufacturing the full scale component was chosen. The selection process was based on factors that are discussed in the next chapter. Figure 15 presents a step of the manufacturing process of the driver's seat. The main steps that were followed were:

preparation of the surface of the fibreglass mould (i.e. waxing with carnauba wax and treating with PVA release agent); cutting the layers of jute cloth to appropriate size; mix and application of epoxy resin and 6 layers of cloth; layup of peel ply, a cloth that reduces excess resin and improvers surface finish and curing for a minimum of 48 hours (Fig. 33);and trimming and finishing the part (Fig. 34 & 35).

Figure 33, Production of driver's seat. Page | 37

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 34, Finished component (front).

Figure 35, Finished component (back).

5.0 Discussion
5.1 Comparison with similar previous work
The study produced results which corroborate the findings of previous work in this field. More specifically, the results obtained for a similar material (cotton fibre textile Page | 38

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos in polyester resin - Table 7) by Raftoyiannis (2012) can be compared. Table 6 presents these results. The final result for the Young's Modulus (Etot) was calculated as 1.1 GPa. This finding supports this previous attempt and goes to show that natural fibre reinforced composites behave similarly.

Table 7, Cotton textile composite properties.

5.2 General Observations


5.2.1 The Effect of Resin-to-Fibre Ratio Prior studies such as Campbell's (2010) work have noted the importance of the resinto-fibre ratio and its effect on the mechanical properties of composites. According to similar research, the optimum performance occurs with the least possible amount of resin that is sufficient to properly hold the reinforcement in place and provide an good interface between resin and fibres. However, the findings of the current study do not support the previous research when it comes to resin-to-fibre ratios. This rather contradictory result may be due to the differences between natural and synthetic fibres and their interface with the matrix. Another possible explanation could lie in the manufacturing process of the specimens and the type of textile used. In other words, the structure of the heavier jute cloth (250gr/m) is quite different than the lighter one since the gaps between each individual string is larger. The difference in the density of the weave, therefore, as well as the sheer number of fibres per unit length could be the reason why each type of cloth required a different amount of resin. Page | 39

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos 5.2.2 The Interface between Resin and Fibre Under load, the interface between the fibre and matrix is subjected under shear loading as suggested by Campbell (2010) and is, therefore, crucial to the performance of the composite Very little was found in the literature on the question of the quality of the interface between the matrix and reinforcement when natural fibres are concerned. However, John Et. al. (2008) and Kalia et al.(2009) attempt to describe this interface as problematic due to the hydrophilic nature of natural fibre surface which results in poor adhesion with hydrophobic matrices such as epoxy resins. The main cause of the reduction in strength is the swelling and softening of the fibres. The relatively low mechanical properties of the materials that were developed may be explained by this poor interface. Nevertheless, further research which will take this variable into account will need to be undertaken in order to provide a better understanding of its effects.

5.3 Selecting the most suitable material


When it comes to choosing a material for a certain design and application there are many factors that affect the decision. In this case the most important considerations were: Mechanical properties Weight Safety Ease of production Cost Water absorption Corrosion and water damage

5.3.1 Coir composites (Class 3 & 4) One of the issues that occurred during production of the specimens with combined jute and coir fibres was the springy nature of coir. Although coir fibre was less prone to resin absorption and should theoretically have a better surface interface, the material structure that resulted was similar to a sponge resulting in low density. This could be accredited to the fact that the hand layup method was used and there was Page | 40

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos no pressure on the top of the sample plates. This affected the adhesion between the coir fibres and jute cloth and created a gap between the top and bottom cloth layer. A close-up of the structure of the material, shown in Fig. 36, presents the issue.

Figure 36, Coir fibre composite structure.

These gaps could have resulted in the relatively low rigidity and UTS and could also cause an issue with water or flammable liquid (e.g. fuel or oil) absorption. This would be unacceptable since it could result in lower structural performance, increase of weight, possible delamination or even a safety hazard. Therefore, class 4 and 5 materials were not chosen for this application. Still, more experimentation with this material while using a different manufacturing process with induced pressure (e.g. vacuum bag) could result in much better results.

5.3.2 Jute cloth and twine (Class 5) A combination of jute cloth and jute string were used to produce class 5 material in which the jute strings were orientated longitudinally across the length of the specimen. This was an attempt to show any correlation between the use of normal woven cloth and a hybrid between woven cloth and a unidirectional fibre combination. These findings were rather disappointing with reduced rigidity and UTS. In comparison to specimens without jute string, class 5 was significantly weaker. Consequently, this type of composite was not selected for producing the seat. The strings are clearly visible in Fig. 37. Page | 41

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 37, Jute cloth and string specimen.

5.3.3 Woven jute cloth (Class 1 & 2) Out of all the material classes, 1 and 2 exhibited the highest Young's Moduli and UTS. Class 1 had a 2.8% higher Young's Modulus and 15.8% higher UTS than class 2. The cost of class 2 was also 13% higher than class 1 which can be an important factor especially when the volume of parts is high. The higher cost is attributed to the higher cost of the cloth used for class 2. There is also an evident difference in the fibre density of the two types of composite. Figures 38 (Class 1) and 39 (Class 2) can be used to compare this difference. The lower density of class 2 is due to the wider spacing of the fibre stings used in the weave. Due to the wider density, the class 2 composite is more susceptible to the formation of air cavities. Figure 40 clearly presents the existence of such air pockets in the structure. This quite possibly has a negative effect on the mechanical properties of the material.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

Figure 38, Class 1 specimen fibre density.

Figure 39, Class 2 specimen fibre density.

Figure 40, Air cavities in material.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos 5.3.4 Selection Taking all the above results into consideration, the most appropriate choice that satisfies the majority of the material requirements is material class 1. This is the 200gr/m2 jute cloth composite. In detail, this material:

is lightweight and strong; has a better surface finish and less air cavities (i.e. less liquid absorption); is easy to produce compared to classes 3, 4 and 5; is cheaper compared to class 1; is widely available in various sizes and fibre densities.

5.3.5 Produced part The part was going to be produced using the class 1 composite, however a mistake by the cloth supplier (provided 250gr/m2 cloth instead of 200gr/m2) and a short amount of available time led to the use of the heavier cloth. Therefore, the seat that was produced is made from class 2 composite.

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The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos

6.0 Conclusions
This dissertation has investigated the possibility of substituting synthetic-fibre reinforced polymers with natural-fiber reinforced ones. A practical approach was adopted by choosing an application for the Formula Student vehicle of the university, namely the driver's seat. From then on, different types of natural fibres were considered as alternatives to glass and carbon fibres. In order to assess the suitability of new materials, five different material specimens were developed in the university and then tested and analysed. After careful consideration, the best suitable material was selected in order for a full scale model to be produced. The following sections summarise the findings.

6.1 Main Findings


The results of this investigation show that the production of components from naturalfibre reinforced polymers is possible and relatively easy, depending on the production process. It is possible to make composite parts in the university workshop with fairly limited equipment apart from the raw materials which are also widely available. Nevertheless, a more complex process, such as vacuum bagging, tends to give better results when mechanical properties are concerned. Fibre-Resin Interface One of the most significant findings to emerge from this study is that it is challenging to create a good interface between natural fibres and polymer matrices due to the hydrophilic nature of the fibres and hydrophobic nature of polymers. Even with modern fibre treatments, the results cannot be compared to the excellent interface between synthetic fibres and plastics. Previous Attempts The results acquired from the tensile testing that was carried out indicate that there is similarity with previous work with natural fibre composites (i.e. Raftoyiannis, 2012) using a hand layup method.

Mechanical Properties The best results, as far as strength is concerned, were achieved by a five layer jute woven cloth with epoxy resin with a Young's Modulus of1.42-1.51 GPa and UTS of Page | 45

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos 41.7-50.4 MPa. This material class consisted of 5 layers of jute cloth (200gr/m) with a resin-to-fibre ratio of 3.41. Class 2 closely followed with Young's Moduli that range from 1.38 to 1.45 GPA and UTS of 33.6 to 45.4 MPa. Material classes 3, 4 and 5 were significantly weaker but they had a lower weight due to lower density. This characteristic could, however, be the cause of their lower strength due to the poorer surface interface and air cavity presence.

6.2 Limitations of Project


A number of caveats need to be noted regarding the present study. The limitations that had the biggest effect were the constraint of time and availability of raw materials and equipment/ facilities. More specifically, this project required a significant amount of materials and equipment to be bought and ordered and the delay between purchase and delivery was substantial especially since extra supplies needed to be ordered when the final material selection was made. In addition, certain tasks had to be completed under the supervision and with the help of experienced technicians which was a challenge since this was a summer project. The availability of natural fibres in the UK also proved to be an issue with only jute and coir being readily available in a small quantity. An issue that was not addressed in this investigation was the actual performance of the produced component. This was a result mainly of the issues that occurred due to the novel nature of this attempt which affected the project management. One source of weakness in this work was the lack of comparison of material specimens produced with different processes. Given more time, raw materials and some more advanced equipment, this could be achieved.

6.3 Achievement of Aims


Returning to the hypothesis posed at the beginning of this study, it is now possible to state that natural fibres can be an alternative to synthetic ones despite their limitations. This has also been proved by the use of natural fibres fin the automotive industry as a reinforcement of polymers. This project also set out to determine and evaluate the mechanical properties of natural fibre composites. This has been achieved by producing and testing various Page | 46

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos materials while adhering to international standards to ensure the data acquired can be used in further work.

6.4 Application to Similar Problems


The contribution of the limited previous work in this field was great because of the lack of information and knowledge. However, this research will serve as a base for future studies concerning natural fibre composites. Moreover, the empirical findings of this attempt provide a better understanding in the behaviour of such materials. These conclusions can not only assist in the enrichment of the university's knowledge on composites and the processes involved but also extend to wider applications in the transportation industry. Advancements in this field could promote the use of sustainable design and materials and have a positive impact in the reduction of pollution and depletion of nonrenewable resources. Last but not least, this project has contributed in the investigation of the use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle and, except from creating a component to be tested, has also provided a mould of the seat that can be used to produce new driver's seats made from a variety of composites.

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7.0 Recommendations
This chapter includes a number of possible factors to be considered for future work. The need for a wider aspect of research results from the issues and questions that emerged during the development of the project.

7.1 Short-term
Now that the basis for acquiring data from tests has been set, the following tasks would greatly broaden the understanding of composite behaviour:

testing of the component under simulated conditions; production and testing of more combinations of natural fibres; testing material behaviour under different loading conditions (e.g. flexural, compression, etc.); improving the manufacturing processes and experimenting with all of them; experimenting with layer orientation;

7.2 Long-term
On a longer term basis, a number of possible future studies include:

further research in establishing a more accurate model of shear stresses in the interface between fibre and resin; investigation into the effects of fibre pre-treatments; experimentation with natural matrices/ resins in order to assess whether the fibre-to-resin interface is affected by a hydrophilic matrix; attempt to create an accurate Finite Element Analysis model to be able to predict component behaviour before production.

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LIST OF REFERENCES
Note: All websites were last accessed on 31/10/2012 in order to ensure they are still online.

American Chemical Society, n.d. [online] http://acswebcontent.acs.org/ Ashby, M.F. (2012). Materials and the environment: Eco-Informed Material Choice. Butterworth-Heinemann. Baiardo M., Zini E. & Mariastella S. (2004). Flax fibre-polyester composites: Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, Volume 35, Issue 6, June 2004. Campbell, F.C.(2010). Introduction to Composite Materials. The Journal of Structural Composite Materials. ASM International (#05287G) Brosius D. (2006). Composites World: Natural Fiber Composites Slowly Take Root http://www.compositesworld.com/articles/natural-fiber-composites-slowly-take-root Cristaldi G., Latteri A., Recca G. & Cicala G. (2012). Composites Based on Natural Fibre Fabrics. University of Catania - Department of Physical and Chemical Methodologies for Engineering, Catania, Italy. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, n. d., [online] http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/Y1873E/y1873e0a.htm John M.J., Francis B., Varughese K.T. & Thomas S. (2008). Effect of chemical modification on properties of hybrid fiber biocomposites. Composites: Part A Applied Science and Manufacturing, 39 (2008) 352-363. Kalia S., Kaith B.S. & Kaura I. (2009). Pretreatments of Natural Fibers and their Application as reinforcing Material in Polymer Composites: A Review. Polymer Engineering and Science, 49, 1253-1272. Kocks, U.F. (2000). Texture and Anisotropy: Preferred Orientations in Polycrystals and their effect on Materials Properties. Cambridge.
A

Ogorkiewicz, R.M. (1973). Linear elastic characteristics of a cast epoxy resin. The Journal of Strain Analysis for Engineering Design. Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 132-133. B Rice, J. A. and Rice, A. C. (2009) Young's Modulus and Thermal Expansion of Filled Cyanate Ester and Epoxy Resins. IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity. Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 2371-2374. Page | 49

The use of composite materials for the Formula Student vehicle Christos Kalavrytinos Owens Corning, n. d., [online] http://www.owenscorning.com/around/rfs/aboutus.asp Raftoyiannis I. (2012). Experimental Testing of Composite Panels Reinforced with Cotton Fibers. Open Journal of Composite Materials, 31-39. Wikipedia, picture of wood grain, n. d. [online] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Birnbaum01.jpg

Bibliography
2009 Year of Natural Fibres [online] http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/en/fibres/coir.html

ASM International website [online] http://www.asminternational.org/portal/site/www/

Composites World [online] http://www.compositesworld.com/

National Composites Network [online] http://www.ncn-uk.co.uk

The Engineer [online] http://www.theengineer.co.uk/1014030.article?cmpid=TE01

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