Polymer to revolutionise composites industry?

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have developed a high impact, high integrity resin which they claim could revolutionise the use of composites in applications ranging from lightweight automobiles to fire-resistant building materials.

"The NRL-developed phthalonitrile-based polymeric composites exhibit superior flammability, low water absorption and high temperature properties that do not exist in the current marketplace," claimed Teddy Keller, head of NRL's Advanced Materials division.

"The fully cured phthalonitrile does not exhibit a glass transition temperature and can be used for structural applications in oxidising and thermally hostile environments."

Keller says the resin offers a low melt viscosity, making it suitable for fabrication of thick composite sections where the melt has to impregnate into thick fibre performs.

It was also measured to have excellent dielectric permittivity and loss tangent characteristics for potential high temperature radomes and other applications requiring radiofrequency transparency.

The researchers believe the phthalonitrile could benefit a range of industries, including aerospace, marine and consumer. It could also have application in battery castings; wind turbine blades; fire-resistant textiles and structural composites; and ammunition casings and storage containers.

Laura Hopperton

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