Mathilde Jean-St-Laurent is a Doctoral Candidate at Laval University supported by the National Science and Engineering Council of Canada. She has a Bachelor and a Master degree in mechanical engineering from Laval University. Her research interests are focused on composite materials for space applications and the development of new methods for testing composite materials in extreme environment. She is currently working on the effect of extreme low temperatures on the low velocity impact behaviour of composite sandwich panels for lunar exploration rovers. As part of her doctoral studies, she joined the Computational Mechanics Laboratory at University de Liège for one semester to acquire a specialization in modelling of damage in composite materials. Her Ph.D. is done in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency and she was a research assistant for this institution for 4 months.
Composite Materials in Extreme Environment: Two Case Studies
Composite materials are increasingly used in the aerospace, automotive, and naval industries among others, since they offer excellent mechanical properties and a good performance to weight ratio. In all of those applications, they can be subjected to extreme environments. In flight, plane components are exposed to temperatures as low as -70°C. Low earth orbit satellites are subjected to extreme temperature variations from 150°C to -170°C. On the moon, during lunar nights, the temperature is approximately -150°C, and in some permanent shadowed areas temperatures can be even lower than -200°C. However, composite materials are sensitive to temperature variations, leading to the development of internal stresses. Moreover, temperature has an impact on the mechanical properties of composite materials, especially those governed by matrix behaviour. Two case studies are presented in order to highlight some of the challenges and research developments regarding composite materials in extreme environments. The first case study focuses on the effect of extreme temperature cycling on composite laminates and sandwich panels for the fabrication of satellites, and the second case study focuses on the effects of extreme low temperatures on the low velocity impact behaviour of composite sandwich panels for the fabrication of lunar exploration rovers.