QinetiQ develops shape memory alloy-reinforced composite

QinetiQ has developed a commercially viable materials technology to address the issue of composite panels being heavier than required, due to their need to resist penetrative impact threats. QinetiQ says that its technology offers significant weightreductions, without any cost increase.

The technology relies on the introduction of a Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) into a carbon fibre reinforced plastic. The SMA wire selection, geometry and architecture, as well as the weaving process, are all designed to ensure that the high specific properties of the carbon fibre composite are maintained, whilst the SMA provides enhanced ability to absorb energy before structural penetration.

QinetiQ claims that the inclusion of 10% by volume SMA resulted in a structure more than three times stronger than the baseline carbon fibre composite.

The material has also been tested against the highest lightning strike threat level, and is said to eliminate the need for additional lightning strike meshes.

QinetiQ is currently moving into the next phase of development and looking for direction from potential users to ensure that the product they develop meets the demands of future applications.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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