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Research Abstracts Online
January 2009 - March 2010

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Institute of Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

PI: Alon V. McCormick, Fellow

Molecular-scale Chemical Reaction Engineering of Materials Synthesis

Molecular-scale models are used to characterize chemical engineering systems that pose special process modeling difficulties because they are governed by poorly understood molecular-scale interactions. These researchers use Galerkin’s method with finite element basis function (GFEM) to calculate viscoelastic stress generation for curing coatings. During solidification, the stress-free state of the coating changes, causing shrinkage. Along with this, the physical properties transition from viscous fluid to hard elastic solid. Adhesion to a solid substrate frustrates shrinkage in the coating plane and can lead to residual elastic stress. To calculate how the material behaves, equations of momentum conservation and a constitutive equation must be combined and solved simultaneously. Computer calculations allow researchers to "look inside” coatings as the cure properties or substrate geometry changes, allowing results that are impossible to measure physically. Such information will help optimize the curing process and shine light on defect formation mechanisms.

Group Member

Daniel J. O’Neal, Graduate Student