Degradation of carbon fiber composites in the maritime environment

William Henry Ejner Reynolds, University of Rhode Island


The purpose of this study was to investigate the long term behavior of carbon fiber polymer matrix composites in several different environments. The application of a coating/electrode/electrolyte system as studied in this research was a carbon fiber polymer matrix composite galvanically coupled in various salt containing solutions and distilled deionized water. The effect of different cations and anions upon the degradation of the polymer coatings are discussed. Changes in the response of the system as a function of exposure periods were related to changes in the properties of the substrate/solution interface. Important electrical parameters in an equivalent circuit that best modelled electrochemical impedance data were used to describe the performance, specifically the charge transfer resistance across the substrate/solution interface.^ Examination of the surface damage by scanning electron microscopy confirmed the changes observed through the application of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Laboratory testing was found to simulate the long term surface damage from galvanic coupling observed in actual marine exposure in seawater. Surface examination after long term simulated galvanic coupling in salt systems indicated the removal of the polymer matrix above the carbon fibers in addition to blistering. Possible electrochemical mechanisms and nonelectrochemical mechanisms for the polymer blistering are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Engineering, Chemical|Engineering, Materials Science

Recommended Citation

William Henry Ejner Reynolds, "Degradation of carbon fiber composites in the maritime environment" (1996). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9707392.