Scientists test first Graphene plane prototype
Scientists team in research collaboration between University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI) and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) developing the first graphene plane prototype, this plane graphene-coated although graphene may be the thinnest material in the world thickness one atom only but scientists hope that graphene could be used to build the toughest-ever plane because graphene strongest substance in the world and 200 times stronger than steel.
Graphene will help planes to be more light weight so can fly higher, use less fuel so became more environment-friendly and for graphene material properties support aircraft to protect them from lightning strikes and keep wings ice-free also .
To test these concepts and developing more ideas, the scientists have been working with aviation experts at the Preston’s University of Central Lancashire and have created a drone-sized prototype.
This drone or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) has 3 meters wide and nicknamed Prospero after Shakespeare’s famous wizard, the unmanned plane which is graphene-coated will be shown off for the first time at Farnborough Air Show this weekend.The remote control aircraft will be put through its paces during the airshow, which runs Friday to Sunday, by David Ringland, a former head of flight testing for unmanned aircraft at BAE Systems.
Scientists hope aircraft will show off the remarkable properties of graphene and potentially pave the way for it becoming commonly used in big size planes and in commercial uses .
Billy Beggs, UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Manager, said: “Last year’s tests were very encouraging and proved to us that graphene has huge potential for aerospace; it is incredibly strong, yet lightweight and flexible at the same time.
Aviation engineers say that the ultra-conductive covering could prevent a plane’s wings from overheating as well as protecting it from potentially devastating damage caused by lightning strikes in storms.
Through the data collected from many tests and initial flights, the researchers have now moved on to the next level by developing processes of infusing graphene into composite structures. This new tech to the skinned wing, produced by our industrial partners Haydale Composite Solutions, is enabling us to test the structural and weight saving benefits of graphene.
Although research still in the early stages of flight testing with the new remotely piloted aircraft but initial test data is already very encouraging. In terms of impact resistance the new wing is showing increased levels of impact resistance of up to 60% over a conventionally-skinned carbon fiber wing.
And James Baker, from Manchester University’s National Graphene Institute, said: “This is a great example of how graphene might be used as a potentially disruptive technology in a market like aerospace and help maintain the UK’s position in this key market.”
So Manchester’s graphene institute is now working with 50 industrial partners on future uses of the substance.
Scientists and researchers have big hope in Graphene because it a material is still relatively new but already we are seeing a range of applications not only for aerospace but also in many other markets.