Investigating water absorption and thickness swelling tendencies of polymeric composite materials for external wall application in refrigerated vehicles
Replacing external metallic wall of refrigerated vehicles has been on the front burner in many published works as weight of the metallic insulated panel continues to pose a challenge on refrigeration unit and environment. As a follow - up to this problem statement, five (5) composite materials were fabricated as replacement options for metallic external sheet for refrigerated vehicles. The key study of this paper is to investigate the moisture absorption and thickness swelling tendencies of these composite specimens as these properties determine the suitability of these materials for refrigerated wall. Part of the methodology adopted in the manufacturing of these composites were based on fibre loading and orientation in the composite panel. Key findings from this experiment shows that the absorption behaviour of composites at 30 oand 60o was consistent until 60 hours duration of immersion before a significant disparity was observed. In addition, G30E (30% reinforced glass fibre in the epoxy composite) was more resilient to moisture attack as a result of enhanced fiber content. The implication of the study is that G30E reinforced composite material could be adopted as external wall of food transport s ystem because of its lower thickness swelling and water absorption properties.
Keywords : Composite materials, refrigerated vehicle, orientation, water absorption, thickness swelling.