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Degradation mechanism investigation of plant-based natural fibres in polymer and cement matrices

Master Thesis

Description:
The use of plant-based natural fibres will be beneficial for the development of environmentally-friendly construction and building materials with high energy efficiency and lower carbon footprint. Plant-based natural fibres (i.e flax and wood) as reinforcement materials of polymer and cement matrices exhibit favourable mechanical properties for future sustainable construction application. However, durability performance is one critical issue which should be considered for practical engineering applications of natural fibres (i.e. flax and wood) reinforced polymer composites and cementitious composites. For example, natural fibres (i.e. flax and wood) reinforced polymer composites and cementitious composites, if being used in practice, their composites will be exposed to a range of aggressive environments (e.g. humidity, basic, acid and alkaline solutions, temperature, freeze-thaw, thermal cycles, UV rays, etc.) during their in-service life, which can cause degradation of composite mechanical properties and thus raise safety concerns. Therefore, understanding the durability performance of natural fibre reinforced polymer composites and fibre reinforced cementitious composites has potential industrial significance. In this thesis, the degradation mechanism of natural fibres (i.e. flax and wood) in polymer and cement matrices will be evaluated by different ageing tests. Fibre treatment techniques will be used to increase the durability of plant-based natural fibre reinforced polymer composite and fibre reinforced cementitious composites.


The tasks include:

  • Literature review of plant-based natural fibres in polymer and cement matrices to find out the improvement techniques
  • Experimental and reference testing of flax fibre reinforced polymer composite and fibre reinforced cementitious composite in different accelerated ageing conditions
  • Degradation kinetics of untreated and treated flax fibres in polymer and cement matrices will be analysed
  • Develop a model to predict the degradation rate of cellulose for flax fibre in polymer and cement
  • Microstructure analysis of flax fibre degradation in polymer and cement with time

Expected:
Knowledge of composite and concrete materials; knowledge of material science and chemical engineering; mathematical skills; English language - communication skills; Self-motivation.

The final thesis report can be written in English or in German. Because the mentor speaks only English, it is most useful for the student, to speak al least some English.


Additional:
Qualified candidates have the opportunity to be promoted to research assistant with proper grants.