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The importance of the manufacturing route in polymer nanocomposite performance and in improving sustainability of plastics

Lecture:The importance of the manufacturing route in polymer nanocomposite performance and in improving sustainability of plastics

Lecturer: Prof. Eileen Harkin-Jones (Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering)

Time: 16:00-18:00 , Jun. 7th(Tuesday), 2022

Tencent ID: 515-809-204

Synthetic polymers form the basis of a huge number of products today from plastic packaging to complex medical devices and aerospace components. The great demand for plastic products is not surprising since it is lightweight compared to alternative materials, very easy to form into a final component and relatively low in cost. A key area of research is to improve the mechanical, barrier and electrical performance of plastics by incorporation of various fibrous and particulate reinforcing materials such as aramid fibres or carbon nanotubes. The growth of research into polymer nanocomposites in particular has been very impressive over the past 15 years and has facilitated the performance enhancement of numerous polymers by increasing their functionality to produce electrically conductive, high gas barrier, flame retardant and mechanically superior plastic materials.

A key advantage of nanofillers such as carbon nanotubes is that they can generally be used in conventional plastic manufacturing processes with little modification of the equipment. However, the influence of the manufacturing process on the structure and properties of the final nanocomposite part has not had as much research attention as it deserves. Each manufacturing process has its own deformational and thermal regimes which in turn influence the structure and properties of the final part. It is therefore very important to understand exactly how the process affects the nanocomposite structure and performance so that the desired properties can be achieved in the end product and to enable proper process control to ensure product consistency. In the first part of this lecture the influence of the processing or manufacturing route on the structure and properties of the end product of some polymer nanocomposites is examined.

Although plastics are ubiquitous in our lives today, they have achieved an extremely poor reputation due to way in which they have been allowed to pollute our oceans and landscapes and to the overuse of single use plastics which hugely exacerbates the problem. There is an urgent need to reduce both the production of single use plastics and also to make existing manufacturing processes more sustainable. The second part of this lecture therefore looks at some ways in which to achieve waste reduction in the manufacture of plastic products.


Eileen Harkin-Jones, Professor and Doctoral Supervisor of the University of Ulster, UK; Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, UK; CBE; Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering. Eileen's research focuses on the development and processing of advanced thermoplastic polymers and composites for applications ranging from aerospace to medical devices, with an emphasis on sustainability. She has published more than 200 papers, received a total of more than 18 million pounds of research funding, and won two UK awards for Excellence in the Transformation of technical achievements. She has trained more than 40 PhDs.

Organizer and sponsor:

Science and Technology Development Institute, SWPU

School of New Energy and Materials, SWPU

State Key Laboratory of Oil and Gas Reservoir Geology and Exploitation

Key Laboratory of Carbon Neutral New Materials for Energy

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