Ultra-high molecular polyethylene (UHMWPE) fiber reinforced nano-epoxy and pure epoxy composites in bundle form were prepared and tested for tensile properties. UHMWPE fiber composites are well known for their superior tensile performance, and this work was conducted to assess the effect of adding nanoadditives to the resin and to evaluate possible enhancements or degradations to that attribute. The results showed that tensile tests on various types of UHMWPE fibers/nano-epoxy bundle composites resulted in an increase in modulus of elasticity due to the addition of small amounts of reactive nanofibers (r-GNFs) to epoxy matrix. It was observed that the modulus of elasticity of the composite bundles depended on both volume fractions of the matrix and the weight percent (wt%) of r-GNFs in the matrix. A non-linear relationship was established among them and an optimal modulus was determined by calculation. A three-dimensional surface plot considering these two parameters has been generated which gives an indication of change in modulus of elasticity with respect to volume fraction of matrix and wt% of r-GNFs in the matrix. A Weibull analysis of tensile strengths for the various bundle composites was performed and their Weibull moduli were compared. The results showed that presence of r-GNFs in the composites increased the strength effectively, and 0.3 wt% r-GNFs based composites showed the highest strength. An important ancillary finding is that optimum tensile values are a function not only of the above parameters, but also strongly influenced by the addition of diluents which control the viscosity of the blend.
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Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge the support from NASA through the grant NNM04AA62G, Dr. W.H. Zhong also gratefully acknowledges Dr. Charles M. Lukehart and Mr. Jiang Li (Vanderbilt University) for providing the derivatized graphitic carbon nanofibers, and Mr. M. T. Wingert for making contribution to the TEM and SEM imaging work.