Development of sustainable hybrid breathing materials and their multiple applications in polymer composites

Student thesis: PhD Thesis


Sustainable manufacturing is crucial for addressing global challenges such as climate change and resource depletion. This research focuses on sustainable manufacturing in the context of composite materials, which have significant potential in various applications but also generate substantial waste during production. The aim of this study is to develop eco-friendly and sustainable materials for composite manufacturing, reduce waste generation, and explore recycling possibilities.
The research begins by fabricating jute/polyester hybrid breathing materials through the needle-punched method, specifically designed for use as breathers in composite manufacturing. These materials exhibit high permeability even under demanding high-temperature and high-pressure conditions. The feasibility of using these hybrid breathers in the composite manufacturing process is investigated, and their performance is compared with commercially available breathers. Results indicate that the hybrid breathing materials have higher permeability and can be reused multiple times while maintaining a significant portion of their original permeability.
Furthermore, a circular economy strategy is proposed to address the challenge of waste management for end-of-life breathers. The used hybrid nonwoven breathers are recycled and repurposed as reinforcing materials in the production of new composites. The mechanical and damping properties of these recycled composites are evaluated, demonstrating their potential as alternatives to synthetic materials in semi-structural applications.
To extend the use of renewable resources across a wider range of applications, hybrid breathing materials reinforced syntactic foams with epoxy/expandable microsphere matrix were developed. Jute/polyester fibre mats serve as the structural core, while ramie fabric is used for the outer layer. Adjusting the reinforcement geometry and microsphere content allows for varied density. The natural fibre reinforcements effectively improve the mechanical and sound insulation properties of the foams than the control group. The foam presents potential for lightweight, multi-functional applications. Overall, this thesis contributes to sustainable composite manufacturing by developing jute/polyester hybrid breathing materials, exploring the reuse of end-of-life breathers, and fabricating fibre-reinforced epoxy foams.
Date of AwardMar 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorXiaosu Yi (Supervisor), Xiaoling Liu (Supervisor) & Jianfeng Tong (Supervisor)

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