Water-borne Intumescent Fire Protective Coating for Pultruded GFRP Utility Poles – MPhil scholarship available

Study level

MPhil

Background

The applications of glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) pultruded profiles are increasing in buildings, infrastructures and commonly used in replacing wooded poles to support power and telecommunications lines. However, the main obstacle regarding the application of GFRP pultruded profiles is the sensitivity of their mechanical properties to elevated temperature. Although glass fibres alone may retain their mechanical properties at relatively high temperatures, most polymer resins are vulnerable at much lower temperatures because of the glass transition and decomposition processes they undergo. It has been proven that appropriate fire protection systems can improve the fire reaction properties of GFRP.  This project aims to develop a new sustainable, eco-friendly and efficient intumescent fire protective coating for GFRP utility poles.

Research Activities

In this research, a novel formulation of intumescent coating for GFRP tube will be characterized based on physical and chemical properties, fire protection performances and mechanical strength. These include the testing of static water immersion, pH measurement, Thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) and Scanning Electron Microscopy – Energy dispersive X-ray (SEM-EDX) to analyse the topographical features of the coating and char structure after fire exposures. The fire performance characterisation will be examined through Bunsen burner, furnace test and Limiting Oxygen Index. The mechanical characterisation will be conducted through pull-off adhesion tester to evaluate the coating-substrate bonding and char mechanical strength to measure the vitality of the carbonaceous char formation.

The successful MPhil candidate will have access to cutting edge facilities within The Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF) and Banyo Pilot Plant at QUT. In addition to the expertise and facilities within CARF, the candidate will be supported by external collaborators and industry partner, Wagners Composite Fibre Technology.

Outcomes

This project will explore different types of bio fillers and flame retardant additives to produce a novel intumescent coating formulation for an application on GFRP substrate.  Ultimately, a new formulation of intumescent coating from waste materials that reduces the production cost, fulfills the requirement for an effective fire protection and eco-friendly product will be achieved.

Skills and experience

Due to funding restrictions, the position is only available for domestic and international onshore candidate only.

Applicants should possess a Bachelor Degree in Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, or a related discipline. Preference will be given to applicants with skill sets in Materials synthesis or characterisation/performance testing.