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Environmental protection of a telescope in the South African desert - A research on biobased polycarbonates.

Westerhof, J.H. (2015) Environmental protection of a telescope in the South African desert - A research on biobased polycarbonates. Bachelor's Thesis, Industrial Engineering and Management.

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This research covers the search for a novel, biobased material capable of protecting the world’s biggest telescope; the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in the South African desert. A material what is used to protect a telescope is called a radôme material, which next to providing protection also has to be radio transparent (non-absorbing radio signals). Therefore, a suitable biobased radôme material has to have both good mechanical as dielectric properties. As a start, properties of 12 biobased polycarbonates were estimated based on their structure. Although the estimated dielectric properties were a little too high, their possibilities were still researched. Two promising copolymers of isosorbide polycarbonate were found. DURABIO, a commercially available product mainly derived from isosorbide (plant-derived) and IPC PC 20/1, a copolymer described in literature with a ratio of 20/1, isosorbide/bisphenol A. The copolymers were compared with current used material polypropylene (which unfortunately is not useable in the desert’s harsh environment), in combination with the used construction of the THEA radôme. It turned out that DURABIO has a lower loss in radio signals than PP while IPC PC 20/1 had little more loss but within SKA’s limits. It also proved that both materials have good mechanical properties. It was also attempted to calculate the properties of the materials as micro cellular foams (MCF). In order to compare it with the often used radôme material expanded polystyrene (EPS). However, due to a big difference in relative density (0.3 for MCF and 0.02 for EPS) the materials turned out to be non-comparable to EPS. All in all, when also judging properties concerning the circumstances, such as high temperature and UV-radiation it turned out that DURABIO meets all ASTRON’s specifications. However, actual realization of a radôme made of biobased material is still very uncertain for now. Mainly due to the expensive DURABIO and estimated producing cost of IPC PC 20/1 derived from the experimental part. It is expected that ASTRON retains the preference for a (biobased) foam and will continue that research. However, most foams have to be protected for the weather conditions outside. A layer of isosorbide (co)polycarbonate seems to be a good application for this research’s results.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Industrial Engineering and Management
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:02
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:02

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