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James Sargianis, a master’s student in mechanical engineering affiliated with University Of Delaware Centre for Composite Materials, took home a first-place award for his presentation at the SAMPE Baltimore-Washington Research Symposium on 8th February.
In addition to a $500 cash award, Sargianis qualifies as a finalist for the student competition at the 2012 SAMPE National Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, in May. His expenses to the conference will also be covered by SAMPE.
Advised by Professor Jonghwan Suhr, Sargianis is conducting research on natural material based sandwich composites with enhanced vibrational and acoustic performance. “Composite sandwich structures offer superior mechanical properties at a low weight and are therefore quite popular in applications such as aircraft cabins and wind turbine blades,” Sargianis says. “However, these same properties translate into efficient noise radiation and thus poor acoustic performance. One idea for improving acoustic properties was to use sandwich composites based on natural materials.”
“The advantage to using natural materials, as opposed to synthetic materials such as carbon or glass fibers,” he adds, “is that we can essentially ‘grow’ our own materials. By growing our own materials, the carbon emissions resulting from synthetic material production would be reduced, along with other environmentally friendly benefits such as being recyclable and biodegradable.”
According to Sargianis, the researchers have observed that with the use of these natural materials—which contain constituents such as cotton or bamboo fibre-based face sheets, or balsa and pine wood cores—acoustic performance can be substantially increased with only slight sacrifices in mechanical performance and weight. In addition, they have found that coupling a natural fibre based face sheet with a synthetic foam core provides a 233 percent improvement in acoustic performance, with minimal sacrifices in mechanical performance.
“James is continuing a long tradition of our students taking top prizes at SAMPE competitions,” says CCM Director Jack Gillespie, who serves as faculty advisor to the UD student SAMPE chapter. “We have been fortunate to attract top students to the Center, and in turn the environment here helps them reach their potential as researchers and leaders.”
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