FEM calculations of capillary rheometer flow for carbon-filled liquid crystal polymer composites

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There is an emerging market for conductive resins for use in fuel cell bipolar plates. This research focuses on developing a finite element model of a capillary rheometer. Comsol Multiphysics 3.2b was used to model the flow of a remeltable thermoplastic matrix material, Vectra A950RX Liquid Crystal Polymer, with varying amounts of either a carbon black or synthetic graphite filler, to obtain the velocity profile and pressure drop of these composites within the capillary. Previous experimental results have shown that the molten composites obey a shear-thinning power law behavior. When comparing the model predicted pressure drops from the model with the experimental data, very good agreement was obtained. This signifies that the rheological behavior of the composites can be described by a power law relationship, using parameters specific to each composite. When comparing the modeled velocity profile with the theoretical profile, it was found for all composite formulations that the velocity becomes fully developed within a length of 0.05 times the diameter of the tube, independent of the power law parameters n and m. This work is a necessary first step in developing 2D or 3D mold filling simulations for fuel cell bipolar plate applications. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Journal of Applied Polymer Science