Compressive and ultrasonic properties of polyester/fly ash composites

Pradeep K. Rohatgi, Takuya Matsunaga, Nikhil Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The addition of hollow fillers having appropriate mechanical properties can decrease the density of the resulting composite, called syntactic foams, while concurrently improving its mechanical properties. In this study, hollow fly ash particles, called cenospheres, are used as fillers in polyester matrix material. Cenospheres are a waste by-product of coal combustion and, as such, are available at very low cost. In this study, the composites were synthesized by settling cenospheres in a glass tube filled with liquid polyester resin and subsequently curing the resin. This process resulted in a functionally graded structure containing a gradient in the cenosphere volume fraction along the sample height. Uniform radial sections were cut from each composite and were characterized to observe the relationship between cenosphere volume fraction and compressive properties of the composite. The composite was also tested using ultrasonic non-destructive evaluation method. Results show that the modulus of the composites increases with increasing cenosphere volume fraction. The modulus of composites containing more than 4.9 vol% cenosphere was found to be higher than the matrix resin. In general, the modulus of composites increased from 1.33 to 2.1 GPa for composites containing from 4.9-29.5 vol% cenospheres. The specific strength of the composite was found to be as high as 2.03 MPa/(kg/m3) compared to 0.96 MPa/(kg/m3) for the neat resin. Numerous defects present in fly ash particles caused a reduction in the strength of the composite. However, the reduction in the strength was found to be only up to 22%. Increase of over 110% in the specific modulus and only a slight decrease in the strength indicates the possibility of significant saving of weight in the structures using polyester/fly ash syntactic foams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1485-1493
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Materials Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • General Materials Science
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)


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