The InnovateUK project titled ‘NanoSynth’ claims to have shown significant improvements in epoxy resin mechanical, thermal and electrical properties. Although still at a low technology readiness level, the programme has developed a method for producing graphene in-situ within the resin. Once concluded the project has the potential to introduce graphene based epoxy resins into aerospace components leading to parts that are not only stronger and of reduced weight but also possess improved electrical and thermal properties.
At present this technology is directly relevant to pre-impregnated systems, further research would be required to gain the same benefits in infusion, which is the current method to produce aerospace standard advanced composites.
Matthew Thornton, project manager, NetComposites, said: “We’re excited by the potential shown and look forward to releasing further results and developments as the NanoSynth project comes to a close at the end of March 2016.”
The project has brought together a consortium which covers the entire innovation value chain including Primary Dispersions alongside Bombardier, B/E Aerospace, NetComposites, The Institute of Occupational Medicine and Nanoforce Technology.
Epoxy resins are widely used in applications ranging from aerospace composites to electronic components, with a worldwide market of £9.5bn, however currently there are no cost effective techniques suitable for producing graphene based epoxy resins at industrial quantities. The project will develop a top-down technique and synthesis platform which can efficiently and cost effectively produce graphene-reinforced epoxy resins on a scale that allows for market adoption.
Steve Devine, technology manager at CPI added: “The final stages of the project are to focus on the scale up of the resins which will allow the material to be used in the production of composite parts. The final achievements from the project will truly give the UK a global competitive advantage, not only for the aerospace sector but also across other industries such as automotive.”