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Relative oxidative resistances of various commercial carbon fibers have been determined by measuring weight loss as a function of time at fixed temperature in air [typically 24 h and 588 K (600°F)]. Trace metal analyses of the same fibers have been determined with an emission spectrograph. When these results are interrelated, it is shown that the more stable polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based fibers have lower sodium and potassium contents. It can also be seen that stability increases with increasing process temperature (that is, degree of carbonization). Since fiber stability is of significance only when the composites also have similar oxidative resistance, good composite property retention after 500 h at 588 K (600°F) has been demonstrated for Celion 6000/NR150B2 polyimide composites.
carbon fibers, polyimide composites, thermal oxidative resistance, mechanical properties, chemical composition, trace metals analysis, composite materials
Research supervisor, Celanese Research Company, Summit, N. J.