Durability of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Composites for Driveshafts

Open Access
Trella, Ryan Matthew
Area of Honors:
Engineering Science
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Charles E Bakis, Thesis Supervisor
  • Osama O Awadelkarim, Honors Advisor
  • Judith A Todd, Faculty Reader
  • Composites
  • Carbon Fiber
  • FMC
  • polyurethane
  • driveshaft
  • environmental conditioning
  • fatigue
Carbon fiber reinforced polymers have the potential to replace traditional metal alloys in structural applications because of their low mass and high strength. These two properties make carbon fiber composites ideal for use in the aircraft industry. One type of composite being examined is a flexible matrix composite, (FMC). Typically made from a polyurethane matrix or other similar material, FMCs have the added benefit of being able to flex when fully cured. This makes FMCs the ideal material to replace the driveshaft of a helicopter in order to reduce weight, save fuel, and cut emissions. Previous research has worked on optimizing the ply layup scheme, examining the fatigue life of FMCs, as well as determining the properties of new polyurethane materials. This investigation examines, for the first time, the effects of aggressive environmental conditions on several carbon fiber reinforced polymers, including two types of carbon fiber reinforced polyurethane composites and a conventional carbon fiber reinforced epoxy composite, in order to anticipate the degraded material properties of a driveshaft after exposure to cleaning agents, fuel leaks, and moisture. In addition, this investigation also examines for the first time the fatigue life of multi-angled ply shafts made of the FMCs as well as the conventional carbon/epoxy composite. The results of this research will help provide insight into better formulation of matrix materials to resist degradation from environmental exposure and cyclic loading.