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‘Clean sky’ aviation research takes off

18 November 2014

Plane Wing

Research pioneered by Cardiff University's School of Engineering and nanomaterials company Haydale could have significant future implications for lighter aircraft design and green aviation technology.

Engineers used Haydale's graphene materials and technology to show graphene-reinforced carbon composites are significantly stronger, tougher, and more resistant to compression - a key factor for damage resistance.

The results, which show increased damage tolerance, could lead to the development of future composite structures, demonstrating the potential in future aircraft design for weight saving and environmental benefits such as reductions in CO2 emissions.

The research was undertaken by the School of Engineering with funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework programme under the Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative. The Clean Sky Initiative aims to accelerate technological advancements in aircraft design and green aviation technology. The project was based on requirements specified by the Centro Italiano Richerche Aerospaziale (CIRA) for developing new composite technologies for Green Regional Aircraft (GRA), and was managed by an integrated team from CIRA, Cardiff School of Engineering and Haydale.

Professor Sam Evans, Cardiff University School of Engineering, said: "This research represented a fantastic opportunity for the team at Cardiff to work with frontline graphene materials and technology. We are very excited about contributing to the Clean Sky initiative as it is an extremely ambitious programme. Graphene technology has enormous potential for improving the performance of aircraft materials. These initial results suggest that there may be the potential for big weight reductions in aircraft and many other applications, which is very promising."

Ray Gibbs, CEO of Haydale said: "These exceptional results underline the potential of Haydale's tailored, plasma functionalisation process in delivering a scalable technology for the production of superior composites. We believe that by working closely with Cardiff School of Engineering, our combined resources and expertise can significantly accelerate graphene optimisation and advance greener, more efficient technologies. Nano-reinforced composites offer an extremely promising route to harnessing the superior material properties offered by graphene technology, and this research demonstrates the considerable improvements that can be made to composites by utilising plasma functionalised nano-carbon materials."

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