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The project aims to develop elastomer-based polymer nanocomposites [PNC] for use as engine gimbal control system bladders, critical components in a launch vehicle. Currently nitrile rubber [NBR] compounds based on microcomposites are being used for the purpose. Resistance to crack formation under dynamic conditions and compatibility with oil and gas permeability are the important characteristics of these bladders. PNCs have properties that are superior to conventional microscale composites in this respect. (eg increase in modulus by a factor of three, reduction in permeability by two orders of magnitude, increase in heat deflection temperature by 100 – 170oC etc.).
The approach includes selection of elastomer and study of different methods of incorporation of the nanofiller [viz. nanoclay]. The study variables relate to polymer backbone, filler level and treatment, additives, etc. Design of experiments [DoE] approach is used for analysis of results. The PNCs obtained are characterised for mechanical and viscoelastic properties, thermal performance, permeability, morphology and ageing. A suitable formulation selected from the analysis using DoE will be used for moulding bladders and evaluation of product and relevant properties.