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About APC

Title Thermal Degradation of Polymeric Materials and Joints for Heat Exchanger Applications
Grant holder Pearl Sullivan, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering
University University of Waterloo
Industrial partner Dana Canada Corporation
Amount $115,000 over two years
Project summary The increasing shift to plastic materials for manufacturing automotive body components has led to considerable weight savings. Even greater impact is expected if more under-the-hood metallic parts, such as heat exchangers, are replaced with plastics. Although a number of all plastic heat exchanger designs have been patented, none has been developed for commercial use. A major barrier is the limited knowledge on the degradation resistance of plastic materials and, in particular, plastic joints when exposed to fluids such as coolant, water and oil at high temperatures. While plastics need to resist corrosion and chemical degradation, the mechanical and physical properties of plastics are inherently viscoelastic, meaning that long-term dimensional and structural stability become the main concerns in assessing part durability.
Under this project, the partners expect to determine an appropriate plastic-based material and joining method for developing a viable plastic heat exchanger. The investigation will compare polyamide, commercially known as nylon, with high performance polyethersulfone (PES). Nylon was considered to be a promising heat exchanger material, but the technology has never been fully pursued. Although PES has been available commercially for some time, its application has been limited in the past due to relatively high costs. This project will evaluate advances in PES development in terms of its applicability for highly corrosive automotive environments and the feasibility of manufacturing processes. Results of the comprehensive experimental study will lead to better understanding of the material's long-term durability and the viability of joints fabricated using advanced welding methods.