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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/E040446/1
Title: Processing of polymer nanocomposites
Principal Investigator: Harkin-Jones, Professor E
Other Investigators:
Hornsby, Professor P McNally, Professor T
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Boran Mopack Danone Innovia films
JGP Perrite Smith & Nephew
Department: Sch Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 August 2007 Ends: 31 May 2011 Value (£): 742,844
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Polymers, because of their properties and ease of processing into complex shapes are among the most important materials available to us today and the polymer industry makes a major contribution to the UK economy (18 billion per year). An exciting new family of materials are polymer nanocomposites (NCs), in which particles with nanoscale dimensions are dispersed in the polymer. The benefits of NCs derive primarily from the exceptionally large amounts of particle surface area that can be achieved for a small addition of particles (e.g. 5% by weight). Thus they offer dramatic improvement in material performance with significant increases in mechanical and gas barrier properties. The user of such a material therefore gets a more effective product (or one containing less material for the same effectiveness). It is well recognised that the nanoparticle-polymer interface/chemistry is a critical parameter in determining the degree of dispersion of particles in a nanocomposite and that the interfacial properties have a significant influence on nanocomposite performance. In recent times, however it has become apparent that the processing route by which the nanoparticle-polymer mixture is formed into a final product is an equally important aspect of NC manufacture and this is the area on which we will focus in this proposal.The principal aim of the proposed project is therefore to achieve a fundamental understanding of the interactions between material formulation, processing and properties of polymer nanocomposites and to apply this to the development of proof of concept applications which provide generic processing information for industry and academia alike. The work will include statistically designed experimental studies using pilot scale polymer processing equipment and validation trials on industrial scale equipment. Parameters to be studied include extruder shear and temperature profiles, screw design, additives such as anti-oxidant, post extrusion deformation such as biaxial extension and cooling rates. We will characterise the materials in terms of structure, mechanical, thermal and barrier performance in order to link process to structure and structure to performance.We will utilise the combined processing, characterisation and analytical skills and facilities existing in Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and the University of Bradford (UoB), partners who have worked together successfully on large collaborative projects, in the past and currently, and have an excellent national and international track record in polymer processing research.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk