Multifunctional Carbon-Polymer Composites for Temperature Sensing and De-Icing
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This dissertation presents the work conducted on two major projects: 1) a structurally integrated, continuous carbon fiber heating element based polymer composite system for the de-icing of wind turbine blades and 2) modeling and experimental verification of piezoresistivity of carbon nanotube/nanofiber based polymer nanocomposite strain sensors. First, icing events on wind turbine blades not only cause a stop in production, but can also lead to serious structural damage to the turbine itself and surrounding structures. This work proposes a structurally integrated, continuous carbon fiber heating element wind turbine blade de-icing system, including an environmental condition based control system for heating actuation. Next, a Monte Carlo based numerical simulation of electrical conduction through a carbon nanotube/nanofiber-polymer nanocomposite is presented. Carbon nanocomposites show great promise as structurally integrated, highly sensitive strain sensors due to their inherent piezoresistivity, but many mechanisms affecting their gauge factor, such as that of temperature, are not well understood. This dissertation presents modification made to an existing Monte Carlo simulation of nanocomposite resistivity, extending its functionality to predict piezoresistive properties dependent on composite temperature. The numerical model is verified with experimental results of carbon nanotube-epoxy nanocomposites under strain at varying sample temperatures.