The prepreg material, developed by Haydale, has potential value for fuselage and wing surfaces in larger scale aero and space applications, especially for the rapidly expanding drone market and, in the longer term, the commercial aerospace sector. By incorporating functionalised nanoparticles into epoxy resins, the electrical conductivity of fibre reinforced composites has been significantly improved for lightning strike protection, thereby achieving substantial weight saving and removing some manufacturing complexities.
Haydale says the Juno project, led by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), has been an ideal demonstration for the viability of the prepreg material for structural applications and the ability to manufacture components using traditional composite manufacturing methods. Further developments are underway to produce the next iteration of lightning strike protection materials based on these nano-carbon enhanced prepregs.
The technology also has performance benefits for a range of applications and industries including large offshore wind turbines, marine, oil and gas, and electronics and control systems.
Haydale worked with the aerospace engineering team at University of Central Lancashire, Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute to develop the unmanned aerial vehicle, that also includes graphene batteries and 3D printed parts.
“We are delighted to be part of the project team,” says Ray Gibbs, Haydale’s CEO. “Juno has highlighted the capability and benefit of using graphene properly dispersed into composite materials to meet key issues faced by the market, such as reducing weight to increase range, defeating lightning strike and protecting aircraft skins against ice build-up.”
“The unveiling of this plane shows how the use of graphene can offer great benefit to the aerospace industry, highlighting the potential near term commercial impact of graphene within this significant market,” adds David Banks, Haydale Chairman.