Humid Ageing of Organic Matrix Composites
Chapitre d'ouvrage scientifique
In this chapter, several aspects of the ageing phenomena induced by water in organic matrix composites are examined, essentially from the physico-chemical point of view. It is first important to recognize that there are two main categories of humid ageing. First there are physical processes, mainly linked to the stress state induced by matrix swelling and sometimes matrix plasticization. This kind of ageing can occur in matrices of relatively high hydrophilicity (affinity with water). Highly crosslinked amine cured epoxies are typical examples of this behavior. The second category of humid ageing involves a chemical reaction (hydrolysis) between the material and water. Unsaturated polyesters are typical examples of this category. They display a low to moderate hydrophilicity, swelling and plasticization have minor effects, but hydrolysis induces a deep polymer embrittlement and, eventually, osmotic cracking. Whatever the ageing mechanism, it needs the water to penetrate into the material and depends on the water concentration and its distribution in the sample thickness. This is the reason why the first and second sections are respectively dedicated to water solubility and diffusivity in matrices, interphases and composites. In each case, the elementary processes are distinguished, to examine the effects of temperature and stress state and to establish structure–property relationships. It is shown that, in most of these aspects, research remains largely open. The last section is devoted to hydrolysis, its kinetic modeling, including the case of diffusion controlled hydrolysis, and its consequences on polymer properties. Structure reactivity relationships are briefly presented. The very important case of osmotic cracking, which can be considered as a consequence of hydrolysis, is also examined.
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