Graphene takes flight

A partnership between The University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI) and a Chinese aviation company could take graphene composite-based planes a step closer to reality.

Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials (BIAM) has become the latest partner of the NGI, for a project that will involve cooperation regarding the structural characterisation and property testing of graphene reinforced aluminium matrix nanocomposites.

The projects could result in lighter, stronger and conductive parts for aeroplanes, high speed trains and other industrial equipment to replace traditional materials. With graphene added, the strength of aluminium alloy could be highly improved while retaining its ductile quality.

The collaboration could improve the technology maturity and accelerate the updating of aeroplane structural materials and functional materials.

In the future, the two parties expect to expand the collaboration on graphene materials. Besides the graphene reinforced aluminium matrix composites, both parties will seek collaboration in areas of graphene energy storage materials, environmental purification materials and information materials.

Dai Shenglong, President of BIAM, said: “Graphene is expected to revolutionise the technology sector. Graphene and its products have unique properties and show wide prospects for applications.

“BIAM has obtained achievements in the areas of graphene modified structural materials and functional materials, the preparation process and large scale production of graphene nanoflakes and graphene films, and has achieved some extensive application experiences in the aviation industry.

“Now the collaboration with The University of Manchester will give full play to both sides’ favourable conditions, enhance fundamental research level, improve the technology maturity, and promote together the development of graphene and its products.”

Prof Robert Young, Professor of Polymer Science and Technology at the University of Manchester, will lead the project.

Tim Fryer

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