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10th August 2018, Ammanford

Haydale prepreg for graphene-skinned plane

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) unveiled the world’s first graphene-skinned plane at this year’s Farnborough Air Show 2018.

The three-and-a-half-metre wide Juno has been developed by the university’s aerospace engineering team in partnership with the Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI), Haydale Graphene Industries and a range of other businesses.

UCLAN unveiled the world’s first graphene-skinned plane at this year’s Farnborough Air Show 2018. © UCLAN/Haydale

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) also includes graphene batteries and 3D printed parts.

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, achieving substantial weight saving and removing some manufacturing complexities.

Haydale says the Juno project 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.

Haydale says the Juno project has been an ideal demonstration for the viability of the prepreg material for structural applications. © UCLAN/Haydale

This technology also has performance benefits for a wide range of applications and industries including large offshore wind turbines, marine, oil and gas, and electronics and control systems.

“We are delighted to be part of the project team. 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,” said Haydale CEO Ray Gibbs.

“The industry reaction to Juno at Farnborough was superb with many positive comments about the work we’re doing,” added Billy Beggs, UCLAN’s engineering innovation manager. “Having Juno at one the world’s biggest air shows demonstrates the great strides we’re making in leading a programme to accelerate the uptake of graphene and other nanomaterials into industry.”

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