Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Malhotra, Vivak

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to test the effects of methyltrimethoxysilane coupling agent on composite material containing calcium sulfite obtained from the Southern Illinois Power Co-operative. This scrubber material and the miscanthus plant are of interest due to their use in coal burning power plants to reduce toxic emission. When calcium sulfate is passed through coal fire gas emissions it absorbs mercury and sulfur. In these composites it is used as filler to reduce cost. Miscanthus is a source of both cellulose reinforcement and some natural resin. This plant has low care requirements, little mineral content, useful energy return, and positive environmental effects. Under investigation is whether a post-cure procedure or a silane coupling agent will positively impact the composite. Hot pressing alone may not be enough to fully cure the phenolic. It is hoped that the silane will increase the strength characteristics of the composite by enhancing adhesion between the calcium sulfite and phenolic resin. Possible effects on the miscanthus by the silane will also be tested. Phenolic is being utilized because of its recycling and biodegradable properties along with cost effectiveness in mass production. Composite mechanical performance was measured through 3-point bending to measure flexural strength and strain at breakage. A dynamic mechanical analyzer (DMA) was used to find thermomechanical properties. The post-cure was found to be effective, particularly on the final composite containing silane. When methyltrimethoxysilane was added to the miscanthus prior to fabrication, it was found to reduce flexural strength and density. However the addition of methyltrimethoxysilane to the calcium sulfite altered thermo-mechanical properties to a state more like pure phenolic, with added flexibility and thermal stability.

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