Conductive nanofillers, such as carbon nanotube, graphene nanoplatelets, and carbon black particles (with diameters in nanometers) have been shown to enhance the electrical conductivity of fiber reinforced polymer matrix composites in many existing studies. The motivation is primarily for lightning strike protection, electromagnetic interference shielding, de-icing, and the manufacturing of lightweight electronic components. In this paper, we evaluate the lightning strike damage tolerance of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) matrix composite laminates containing conductive nanofillers with varying weight fractions, including carbon black (CB), carbon nanotubes (CNT), and a mix of CB and CNT, through simulated lightning strike tests, followed by both non-destructive ultrasonic inspection and destructive sectioning to characterize the damage inflicted by the simulated lightning strike. Three-point flexural tests are performed to evaluate the residual strength retained by all CFRP specimens. Results show that lightning strike damage experienced varying levels of reduction for CFRP composite specimens containing conductive fillers in comparison to the baseline specimen without fillers. Notably, the delamination only penetrated to the interface between the 1st and 2nd layer for the specimen with 0.25 wt.% CNT in comparison to the baseline CFRP specimen for which the delamination penetrated to the interface between the 5th and 6th layer. Moreover, the retention of the flexural modulus increased from 26.5% to a maximum of 95.0% for the specimen with 0.25 wt.% hybrid CB and CNT. Yet, we show that using our chosen conductive fillers cannot fully eliminate lightning strike damage. Additionally, adding conductive fillers could compromise the flexural properties. We provide discussions on future recommendations on using conductive fillers for the lightning strike protection of CFRP composites.
- Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) matrix composites
- Conductive fillers
- Lightning damage mitigation
- Lightning strike
- Strength retention after lightning strike
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ceramics and Composites