My Research Project...
This semester I volunteered to take part in a non-funded undergraduate research project. I am working with one other undergraduate student, and a grad student is working as our advisor. The scope of this project is to test the mechanical properties of plastics with different amounts of rubber filler. The filler being used is reground tires. If the mechanical properties see a significant increase, we may find a successful way to recycle car tires.
The first step was to have a meeting with the professor in charge of the project, and lay out a plan. In this meeting we determined what the batches of material and filler we would use. The material being used is polypropylene, and the fillers are measured by different mesh sizes, which are 140 and 200. We will also be using compatibilizers in some of the batches.
The next step in this project is to compound these materials using a twin screw extruder. This means, the two different materials will be melted, and extruded into one strand, then reground to make one batch of material. These different batches of material will be injection molded into tensile bars, flexural bars, and impact disks. We are going to try and find a family mold that has all three. Once these samples are made, they will be undergoing numerous tests to determine mechanical properties.
The results of this project are going to be presented next winter at the ACS rubber show in Pittsburgh, PA. So far, we have determined the batches of material, located our base material, and cleaned and programmed the twin screw extruder. I will let you know how this project is going once we get closer to the presentation date.