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FrictionandWearResearch,Volume4,2016www.seipub.

org/fwr
doi:10.14355/fwr.2016.04.001

InfluenceofAluminumOxideNanofibers
ReinforcingPolyethyleneCoatingonthe
AbrasiveWear
EzzatA.A.*,MousaM.O.**,AliW.Y.**
*ElMiniaHighInstituteofTechnology,ElMinia,EGYPT
**FacultyofEngineering,MiniaUniversity,P.N.61111,ElMinia,EGYPT

Abstract
Experimentshavebeencarriedouttoinvestigatetheabrasivewearofsteelspecimenscoatedbypolyethylene(PE)coatingina
sandy soil. Aluminum oxide (Al2O3) nanofibers were employed as fillers in PE for fabricating the tested composites. The
reinforcedpolyethylenecoatinghasbeenimpregnatedbyoil.Anabrasiveweartesterwasdevelopedtosimulatetheabrasion
caused by a sandy soil against surfaces subjected to abrasive contaminants. Motion was transmitted to the disc via the drill
chuck. The test time was 15 min. Experiments were carried out at 25 C. Wear was measured by digital balance with an
accuracyof0.001g.Wearandembedmentofsandparticleswereanalyzedusingopticalmicroscopyafterthetest.Basedon
theexperimentalresults,itwasfoundthat,theadditionofaluminumoxidefibersshowedaconsiderablemitigationinthewear.
Whenoilcontentincreased,theweardecreased.Embedmentofthesandparticlesforthesmallersizeparticlesishigherthanthe
largerparticles.Increasingofoilcontentenhancedtheembedmentofsandparticles.ThecompatibilityofAl2O3nanofiberswith
PEleadstotheinseparabilityofaluminumoxideduetogoodadhesionanddecreasedthewear.
Keywords
Wear,Polyethylene,AluminumOxide,Oil,Sand,Embedment

Introduction
In a study investigated the abrasive wear of surfaces subjected to abrasive contaminants. It was found that, the
addition of aluminum oxide particles to PE enhanced the wear resistance and the hardness of the matrix. The
increase of oil content decreased the wear. PE coating filled by aluminum oxide particles content and 10% oil
content showed zero wear, [1]. Where, nanoparticles of aluminum oxide were used as filling material in PVC
coating. Steel specimens were used as substrate coated by the tested composites and oil. It was concluded that,
wherethealuminumoxidenanoparticlesincreasedtheweardecreased.MinimumwearillustratedinPVCwith9%
aluminumoxideparticlescontentand10%oilcontent.Increasingofoilcontentenhancedtheembedmentofthe
sandparticles,[2].Onewaytoimprovethewearpropertiesofpolyethylene(PE)istheuseofinorganicfillers,such
as kaolin, alumina, zirconium oxide and various carbon materials, [3]. The search for advanced tribological
materials and concepts that will dramatically reduce size, weight and power consumption in modern aviation,
space, and propulsion applications, while also satisfying extreme mechanical, environmental and endurance
challenges,hasdramaticallyincreasedoverthepastdecade,[4].Therehasbeenanincreaseduseofaluminumand
itsalloysinengineeringduetotheirexcellentresistancetocorrosion,goodthermalconductivity,lowdensity,and
moderate cost, [5]. Alumina is one of the most widely used ceramic material finds applications as structural
componentforhightemperatureapplications,heatengineandaerospaceapplications,aselectronicsubstrate,[6].
Oxide ceramics such as Al2O3 ceramic coatings having superior hardness, chemical stability and refractory
character,arecommonlyutilizedtoresistwearbyfrictionandsolidparticleerosion,[7].Amongvarietyofceramic
fibers available on market, alumina fibers have received a particular attention due to unique high temperature
properties and chemical stability, [8]. Latest investigations have shown that inorganic fullerene like materials
(IFLM) can be used as nanomaterial for reduction of friction, [9]. The reinforcement of the epoxy matrix by
nanoparticlesandaluminumoxidethinfibersisespeciallyattractivebecausethesefillersincreasethestrengthand
thermalstabilityofthematerialandimpartresistancetocorrosivemedia,exceptforstronglyalkalinemedia.Itwas
demonstrated that aluminum oxide nanoparticles and aluminum oxide nanofibers have a reinforcing effect on

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epoxymatrices.Thefillingofthereinforcingeffectonepoxymatrices.Thefillingofthereinforcingeffectonepoxy
matrices. The filling of the strength of the composite to a larger extent, whereas the filling of the matrices with
nanofibers favors an increase in the Young modulus. Possibly, a combination of filling with aluminum oxide
nanoparticlesandaluminumoxidenanofiberswillappeartobethemostoptimumvariantofthereinforcementof
epoxy matrices, [10]. The addition of alumina nanoparticles into epoxy resin demonstrates their ability to
simultaneously improve stiffness, impact energy and failure strain at low filler contents (12 vol. %), [11]. Many
studies on polymer composites have been done using inorganic compounds as a single filler material, [12].
Polymers and polymermatrix composites have been finding great potentials in industry as a class of important
triboengineeringmaterials,notjustfortheireaseinmanufacturingandlowunitcost,butalsofortheirpotentially
excellent tribological performance in engineered forms. Polymer composites filled with fibers and/or solid
lubricantshavebeenwidelyacceptedastribomaterialsandusedonthecomponentssupposedtorunwithoutany
external lubricants The former mainly improves the mechanical strength and wear resistance of polymers, while
thelatterimprovesfrictioncharacteristicsandcontributestothecontrolofwear.Tribologicalpropertiesofpolymer
composites can also be greatly enhanced with the addition of nanoparticles, such as nanoAl2O3, [13]. Polymeric
materialshavingultrahighmolecularweight(UHMW),suchaspolyethylene(PE),havesuperiorfrictionandwear
characteristics; thus, they are widely used as bearings and artificial joints. Various modifications of the chemical
structure of the chains, including crosslinking by irradiation ion implantation and blending with other
components are made for the further improvement of the tribological properties, [14]. In desert areas, fine sand
particlesareattractedintomachinelubricatingsystemsthroughtheairorfuelfiltersThisconditioncausesserious
wearproblemsfortheslidingcomponentsinlubricationand,underextremecircumstances,atotalfailureofthe
equipment, [15].The wear of specimens coated with PE containing fillers of different hardness showed a good
correlationbetweenwearandfillershardness.PEcoatingsgavearelativelysoftmatrixofplasticmaterials,which
enhancedtheembedmentofsandparticles.Theembedment,[16]increasedtheabrasionresistance.
Inthepresentwork,thewearofpolyethylene(PE)filledwithnanofibersofaluminumoxideandoilisdiscussed.
Experimental
An abrasive wear tester was constructed to simulate the abrasion caused by sand against surfaces subjected to
abrasive contaminants. The tester was composed of a circular steel disc holder 180 mm in diameter capable of
holding eight specimens of carbon steel (St 60). The specimens had the form of a pin with 40 mm length, 8 mm
outerdiameterand4mminnerdiameter.Motionwastransmittedtothediscviathedrillchuck,Fig.1.Aspeedof
280rev/minwaschosen.Thetestspecimenswereimmersedatafixeddepthinapanfullofsand.Thetesttimewas
15min.Experimentswerecarriedoutat25C.Wearwasmeasuredbydigitalbalancewithanaccuracyof0.01g.
Thespecimenswerecoatedwithpolyethylenefilledwith0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10%nanofibersofaluminum
oxidecontent,Fig.2and0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10%oilcontent.Twothetascaleforaluminumoxidenanofibersis
showninFig.3.ThesequenceoftheoperationsfollowedintheexperimentalworkisshowninFig.4.

FIG.1LAYOUTOFSANDTESTRIG,[16].

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FIG.2SEMMICROGRAPHOFAL2O3NANOFIBERS,[17].

FIG.32THETASCALEFORALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERS,[17].

FIG.4THESEQUENCEOFTHEOPERATIONSFOLLOWEDINTHEEXPERIMENTALWORK.

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Results and Discussion

6
5

Wear,mg

4
3
2
1
0
0

AluminumOxide(Al2 O3)Content,%

10 11

FIG.5EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEARFORPE.

Figure 5 shows the effect of Al2O3 nanofibers on wear for PE. Where, increasing of Al2O3 nanofibers caused a
decrease in wear. This can be attributed to the compatibility of Al2O3 nanofibers with PE which leads to the
inseparability of Al2O3 due to its good adhesion. Moreover, the higher surface area for nanofibers increases the
adherenceoftheAl2O3fibersintothePEmatrixandincreasesthewearresistanceandthehardnessofthematrix
trendowingtothehighwearresistanceandhardnessofaluminumoxide.Thebestresultshavebeenobservedfor
PEwith7,9and10wt.%aluminumoxidecontent.

6
5

Wear,mg

4
3
2
1
0
0

10 11

AluminumOxide(Al2 O3)Content,%
FIG.6EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH1%OILCONTENT.

Figure6indicatestherelationbetweenwearandAl2O3inPEwith1wt.%oilcontent.Thespecimenscoveredby
PEwithAl2O3nanofibersandimpregnatedby1wt.%oilgavegoodwearresultsascomparingtoPEwithAl2O3
nanofiberswithoutoil.Thisbehaviormeansthatwhenoilcontentincreases,weardecreases.Thiscanbeattributed
totheimprovementoftheoilovertherunningsurfacebytheadditionoftheoilcontentinthematrix.Astheoil
gets into the contact surfaces, it forms film of oil and reduces wear. Moreover, where Al2O3 increases wear
decreases. The minimum wear was 1 mg at 8 wt. % Al2O3 content. The high adhesion for Al2O3 nanofibers

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increasedtheaccordancebetweenthePEandthenanofibersandshowedaconsiderablemitigationintheweardue
tothehighhardnessofAl2O3.

4.5
4
3.5
Wear,mg

3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
0

10 11

AluminumOxide(Al2 O3)Content,%
FIG.7EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH2%OILCONTENT.

Figure7observesthat,Al2O3nanofibersenhancedthestrengthandthehardnessofthecoating.Thisenhancement
increasedwithincreasingAl2O3fibersconcentration.Thehighersurfaceareafornanofibersplaysanoticeablerole
inenhancementoftheadherencebetweenthefibersandPE,asshowninFig.8.Also,therelativelyhighadhesion
betweenthematrixandfiberstendstomakethefiberstobeinherentwiththecoatingandincreasesthehardness
ofthecoatingasresultofthehighhardnessofAl2O3.Ontheotherhand,theeffectofoilonthewearofPEwith
Al2O3alsoisrevealed,asshowninFig.7.ForPEwithAl2O3and2wt.%oilcontent,wearisremarkablyloweredas
comparedtothevalueofthewearofPEwithAl2O3contentwith1wt.%oilcontent.Wearwas1mgat10wt.%
Al2O3contentand2wt.%oilcontent,wherewearwas3mgat10wt.%Al2O3contentwith1wt.%oilcontent.This
canbeinterpretedonthebetterpresenceoftheoiloverthecontactareaduetothehigherpercentageoftheoil.It
seems that oil plays the role of the lubricant and tends to reduce the wear because it covers the surfaces and
protectsitfromwear.

FIG.8THESURFACEAREAFORNANOFIBERSALUMINUMOXIDEANDNANOPARTICLESALUMINUMOXIDE.

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8
6
Wear,mg

4
2
0
2
0

AluminumOxide(Al2O3)Content,%

9 10 11

FIG.9EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH3%OILCONTENT.

Figure9clearlydemonstratestheeffectofAl2O3onwearofimpregnatingPEby3wt.%oilcontent.Itisevident
thatthewearofPEwithAl2O3and3wt.%oilcontentislowerthanwearofPEwithAl2O3and2wt.%oilcontent.
TheminimumwearwaszeroatPEwithAl2O3and3wt.%oilcontent.Thatimprovementmaybeattributedtothe
higherpercentageoftheoilwhichallowstheoiltocoverthecontactsurfaceanddecreasethewear.Moreover,it
seemsthatincreasingAl2O3decreasedthewear.ThehighhardnessofAl2O3causesasignificantimprovementin
thesurfaceofthecoatingandincreasesthehardnessofthematrix.
5
4

Wear, mg

3
2
1
0
-1
-2
-3
0

2Aluminum
3
4Oxide5 (Al 6O ) Content,
7
8% 9
2

10

11

FIG.10EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH4%OILCONTENT.

Wear, mg

Figure 10 illustrates the same trend for PE with Al2O3 and impregnated by 4 wt. % oil content. Where, the
minimumwearwaszeromgat7and10wt.%Al2O3content.Moreover,impregnatingPEby3wt.%oilcontent
improvedthewearresistance.Thiscanberelatedtothegoodlubricatingpropertiesofoil,whichbuildsafilmat
thecontactzoneandreduceswear.Moreover,Al2O3asfillingmaterialinPEcoatingenhancedthestrengthandthe
hardnessofthepolymericmatrix.
5
4
3
2
1
0
-1
-2
-3
-4
0

10

11

Aluminum Oxide (Al2 O3) Content, %


FIG.11EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH5%OILCONTENT.

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Figure 11 concludes that, the embedment of the abrasive sand particles in the surface of the coating offers an
explanationfortheobservedinitialincreaseofweightrecordedforbothresultsofPEwith7,and10wt.%Al2O3
contentwith5wt.%oilcontent.Where,wearwas1mgat7and10wt.%Al2O3contentandthenegativesign
indicated that the weight increased after test. This means that the sand particles embedded in the surface of the
coating. The microscopic examination of the specimen surfaces confirmed the presence of the sand particles
embeddedinthesurface,Fig.12.Here,embedmentofthesandparticlesinthesurfaceofthetestspecimenscanbe
expectedduetotherelativelyhigherhardnessofthesandparticles.Ontheotherhand,theeffectofoilcontenton
wearofPEwithaluminumoxidecontentalsoisrevealed,asshowninFig.11.ForPEwithaluminumoxidecontent
and5wt.%oilcontent,wearisremarkablyloweredascomparingtothevalueofthewearofPEwithAl2O3content
and4wt.%oilcontent.Thiscanberelatedtothelowhardnessofthematrixbecauseincreasingoilcontent,which
enablesthehardparticlesofsandtobeembeddedinthesurfaceofspecimen,asshowninFig.13.

FIG.12SANDEMBEDMENT.

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FIG.13SCHEMATICILLUSTRATIONTHEEMBEDMENTOFSANDPARTICLES.

6
5
4
3
Wear, mg

2
1
0
-1
-2
-3
-4
0

10

11

Aluminum Oxide (Al2 O3) Content, %


FIG.14EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH6%OILCONTENT.

Figure14presentstheeffectofAl2O3onwearofimpregnatingPEby6wt.%oilcontent.Thespecimenscoveredby
PEwithAl2O3nanofiberscontentand6wt.%oilcontentgavegoodwearresultsascomparingwiththespecimens
coveredbyPEwithAl2O3nanofibersand5wt.%oilcontent.Wearwas2mgat5and10wt.%Al2O3content.This
behaviormeansthattheembedmentishigherthantheembedmentinPEwith5wt.%oilcontent,whereminimum
wearwas1mg,asshowninFig.11.Where,theincreasingofoilcontentdecreasedthehardnessofthesurfaceand
enhancedtheembedmentofsandparticles.Moreover,embedmentisattributedtothefactofthehigherhardness
ofthesandparticles.Tohavemoreinformationaboutembedmentofsandparticlesonthesurfaceofthespecimens,
wearandembedmentofsandparticleswasanalyzedusingopticalmicroscopyafterthetest.Acarefulsurveyof
Fig. 15 indicates that embedment of the sand particles for the smaller size particles are higher than the larger
particles.Differenceinembedmentisprobablyduetotheirdifferentangularityandthesmallerparticlesaremore
angular,Fig.16.

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FIG.15EFFECTOFSANDPARTICLESSIZEONTHEEMBEDMENT.

FIG.16SCHEMATICILLUSTRATIONTHEEFFECTOFTHESANDPARTICLESIZEONTHEEMBEDMENT.

3
2
1

Wear, mg

0
-1
-2
-3
-4
0

10

11

Aluminum Oxide (Al2 O3) Content, %


FIG.17EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH7%OILCONTENT.

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Figure17showsthat,increasingtheoilcontentcausesasignificantimprovementinthesurfaceofthecoatingas
the wear decreases with increasing oil content. It is well known that factors such as particle shape, size and
hardness affect on the embedment of abrasive particles. In most cases, embedment of sand particles is revealed.
The best of results was 3 mg for wear because the high percentage of oil content increases the plasticity of the
coatingsurfaceanddecreasesthehardnessofthecoatingmatrix.Where,thehardnessofthematrixdecreases,the
sandparticlesembedmentincreases.Ontheotherhand,embedmentofsharpparticlesishigherthanthespherical
particlesasthesharpedgeoftheseparticlesfacilitatestheembedmentinthesurface.
3
2
1
0

Wear, mg

-1
-2
-3
-4
-5
-6
0

3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Aluminum Oxide (Al2 O3) Content, %

10

11

FIG.18EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH8%OILCONTENT.

Figure 18 observes that, embedment displayed in all results expect only at 0 and 7 wt. % Al2O3 content. This
behaviorconfirmsthat,increasingtheoilcontentcausesamainroleinthewearresistanceofthecoatingsurface.
The percentage of the sand particles embedment is higher due to the high percentage of oil content which
decreasesthehardnessofthematrixandenablesthehardparticlesofsandtobeeasilyembeddedinthesurface,
allowingforgrowththeprotectivewearlayerofsandparticles.AccordingtoFig.18,wearwas5mgat3and8wt.%
Al2O3particlescontent.Thenegativesignindicatedtheincreaseoftheweightcausedbyembedmentofthesand
particles.
3
2
1
Wear, mg

0
-1
-2
-3
-4
-5
-6
-7
0

10

11

Aluminum Oxide (Al2 O3) Content, %


FIG.19EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH9%OILCONTENT.

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Figure19concludesthat,theweightincreasedaftertestinallresultsexpectonlyat1and2wt.%Al2O3content.PE
with Al2O3 content and 9 wt. % oil content showed promising results. It is clearly seen that the embedment is
higher than the embedment in PE with Al2O3 content and 8 wt. % oil content. The wear was 6 mg at 9 wt. %
aluminumoxidecontent.Thenegativesignindicatedtheincreaseofweightcausesbyembedmentofsandparticles.
This phenomenon can be attributed to the increasing of oil which enhanced the embedment of sand particles.
Where,theoildecreasedthehardnessofthecoatingbyincreasingtheplasticityofit.Thehighabrasiveactionof
sand particles facilitates the embedment. So the sand particles embedded in the surface of the specimen and
increased the abrasion resistance of the coating appreciably, by forming a protective wear layer of hard sand
particlesonthesurfaceofcoating.Themicroscopeexaminationillustratedtheembedmentofsandparticlesinthe
surfaceofthecoating,asshowninFig.20.

FIG.20SANDEMBEDMENT.

2
1
0

Wear, mg

-1
-2
-3
-4
-5
-6
-7
-8
0

10

11

Aluminum Oxide (Al2 O3) Content, %


FIG.21EFFECTOFALUMINUMOXIDENANOFIBERSONWEAROFPEWITH10%OILCONTENT.

Figure21clearlydemonstratesthat,minimumwearillustratedinPEwith10wt.%oilcontentandAl2O3content,
Fig.21.Wearwas7mgat8and9wt.%Al2O3content.Thepercentageofthesandparticlesembedmentishigher
due to the high percentage of oil content which decreased the hardness. So the sand particles embedded in the
surfaceofthespecimen.Thedecreaseinhardnessincreasedembedmentofthesandparticlesinthesurfaceofthe
coating and forming a protective wear layer of hard and particles on the surface of the coating leading to a
significantreductionwear.

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Conclusions
1MinimumwearwasobservedinPEwith10%oilwith8and9%aluminumoxidecontent.
2Aluminumoxidefibersenhancedthewearresistanceandthehardnessofthecoating.Where,thehighadhesion
for Al2O3 nanofibers increased the accordance between the PE and the nanofibers and showed a considerable
mitigationinthewearduetothehighhardnessofAl2O3.
3Increase of oil impregnating PE enhanced the embedment of sand particles. Where, the oil decreased the
hardnessofthecoatingbyincreasingtheplasticityofit.Thehighabrasiveactionofsandparticlesfacilitatesthe
embedment.Sothesandparticlesembeddedinthesurfaceofthespecimenandincreasedtheabrasionresistanceof
thecoatingappreciably,byformingaprotectivewearlayerofhardsandparticlesonthesurfaceofcoating.
4As oil content increased, the wear decreased. This can be attributed to the improvement of the oil over the
runningsurfacebytheadditionoftheoilcontentinthematrix.Astheoilgetsintothecontactsurfacesandforms
filmofoilandreduceswear.
5Embedmentofthesandparticlesforthesmallersizeparticlesarehigherthanthelargerparticles.Differencein
embedmentisprobablyduetotheirdifferentangularityandthesmallerparticlesaremoreangular.
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