Engineering Fellowships for Growth: Next generation of lightweight composites - how far can we go?

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Aeronautics

Abstract

Breakthroughs in the development of new materials have historically been achieved largely by trial and error. My vision is that there is a new generation of advanced hierarchical materials that has never been addressed and can be achieved by design. This new generation draws inspiration both from recent experimental observations in existing materials and from biomimetics, and is made possible by recent advances in modelling and manufacturing. The main challenges faced by today's composites industry include (i) damage tolerance, (ii) manufacturability and (iii) sustainability. I argue that (i) hierarchical micro-structural designs for composites will be more damage tolerant and achieve over 100% increase in fracture toughness, (ii) that hierarchical discrete carbon-fibre systems will simultaneously address manufacturing and performance needs of the automotive industry, and (iii) that recycled carbon fibres will find a high-value market as semi-structural parts by also exploiting hierarchical architectures. My proposal is to define these hierarchical micro-structures by design and to then develop suitable manufacturing methods to realise them in practice.

Planned Impact

Hierarchical and quasi-fractal micro-structures, as the ones envisaged in this proposal, do not exist at all in synthetic composites. Hence this proposal contains a high level of novelty relative to the international landscape. The composites industry is likely to change substantially in the next decades - as the aeronautics sector moves to requiring improved damage tolerance, the use in the automotive sector increases, and end-of-life solutions become a legal requirement, successful industries will move to providing new intermediate products which offer suitable micro-structures. The micro-structures proposed here address the need for reducing the development times of new materials, for reducing lead time for structural design (through greater understanding of the materials' mechanical response), for reducing manufacturing time (with the focus on DCFS solutions), and for the sustainable use of carbon fibre (by providing micro-structures for rCFRPs aimed at high-value applications). With 1,500 companies in the UK's composites sector producing added value of around £1.1 billion, it is fundamental for the competitiveness of the sector to be at the forefront of micro-structural design and manufacture.
The research proposed here is therefore of strategic interest to the UK - to its 1,500 composites industries, and to all end users and ultimately the entire population. While some composites industries will benefit indirectly from this project, others will benefit more directly. From the latter beneficiaries, a considerable number are partners in this project, providing an ample representation for suppliers of raw materials, providers of intermediate materials and providers of end products. These companies will follow closely the progress in this fellowship, and will therefore be in an ideal position to exploit results and thus benefit directly.

Publications

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Bullegas G (2016) Engineering the translaminar fracture behaviour of thin-ply composites in Composites Science and Technology

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Häsä R (2019) A three-level hybrid metal/in-plane-CFRP/crossed-lamellar microstructure concept for containment applications in Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing

 
Description By the end of the fellowship, we have achieved a factor of 6 in increase of translaminar toughness. This exceeds the factor of 2 we indicated as a reasonable target in the proposal. We have presented this in conferences and journal papers (18 Q1 journal papers published, and a few more under submission).
We have investigated different bio-inspired approaches for obtaining better damage tolerance via crack deflection and damage diffusion - and are obtaining other very interesting results that still need further work before publishing.
Exploitation Route We currently have 2 IUK / ATI / Rolls Royce - funded projects where we are looking at developing applications of some of our findings from this fellowship.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

URL http://wwwf.imperial.ac.uk/aeronautics/research/pinholab/next-gen.html
 
Description The findings for this fellowship are currently being exploited within 2 IUK / ATI projects (Fantastical https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113190 and Fandango https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113232 ) with rolls Royce
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Fandango - ATI project with Rolls Royce
Amount £16,986,129 (GBP)
Funding ID TSB ref: TS/T000392/1 UKRI ref: 113232 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 12/2022
 
Description MARIE SKLODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS Innovative Training Networks (ITN) Call: H2020-MSCA-ITN-2016
Amount € 3,370,807 (EUR)
Funding ID Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 722626 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2016 
End 09/2020
 
Title Interlocked thin-ply reinforcements for improved fracture toughness and compression after impact 
Description This dataset contains data showing the effect of interlocked thin-ply reinforcement units on the fracture toughness and compression after impact strength of CFRP laminates. For both the fracture toughness and the CAI experiments, tests were conducted on non-reinforced baseline specimens, as well as reinforced specimens. These experiments were conducted to test a reinforcement concept, consisting of creating reinforcement units by interlocking two thin-ply prepreg layers with a tab-and-slit geometry. These reinforcement units are then inserted between the plies of a regular composite lay-up. This reinforcement concept was first presented at the 18th European Conference on Composite Materials (2018, Athens, Greece). More information on the concept can be found at: http://wwwf.imperial.ac.uk/aeronautics/research/pinholab/interlock-tabs/. The fracture toughness section of this dataset contains both mode I and mode II data. The mode I data was acquired using DCB specimens, and the mode II data was obtained from 4-point end notch flexure tests. Force, displacement, crack length, and strain energy release rate during the test are provided for all specimens. The CAI section of the dataset contains post-impact C-scans, as well as force, displacement, and strain gauge data from the subsequent compression tests.
 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Interlocked thin-ply reinforcements for improved fracture toughness and compression after impact - 0 degree tabs 
Description This dataset contains data showing the effect of thin-ply reinforcement units, interlocked with a tab-and-slit geometry, on the fracture toughness of CFRP laminates. This dataset forms an addition to the dataset previously published here: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1476886. The previous dataset contains toughness data for reinforcements with tabs at 45 degrees. This dataset contains toughness data for reinforcements with tabs at 0 degrees. The reinforcement concept was first presented at the 18th European Conference on Composite Materials (2018, Athens, Greece). More information on the concept can be found at: http://wwwf.imperial.ac.uk/aeronautics/research/pinholab/interlock-tabs/. Links to publications connected to this data will be added to the Zenoto meta-data as they are published. For the reinforcement concept, both mode I and mode II fracture toughnesses were measured. The mode I data was acquired using DCB specimens, and the mode II data was obtained from 4-point end notch flexure (4ENF) tests. Force, displacement, crack length, and strain energy release rate during the test are provided for all specimens. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Description AIRBUS OPERATIONS LIMITED 
Organisation Airbus Group
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution STP's failure models used extensively by Airbus: "We've been collaborating with Dr Pinho over a number of years on the development of models for failure of composite structures. This is a very challenging area and these models constitute a positive contribution to our capability to predict damage in large components." (Dr Morten Ostergaard, Airbus Senior Expert in Structure Modelling and Non-Linear Finite Element Analysis, Morten.Ostergaard@Airbus.com)
Collaborator Contribution Airbus provided funding, test cases and industrial context.
Impact 1. STP's failure models used extensively by Airbus: "We've been collaborating with Dr Pinho over a number of years on the development of models for failure of composite structures. This is a very challenging area and these models constitute a positive contribution to our capability to predict damage in large components." (Dr Morten Ostergaard, Airbus Senior Expert in Structure Modelling and Non-Linear Finite Element Analysis, Morten.Ostergaard@Airbus.com) 2. Several papers are the result of funding from Airbus.
Start Year 2007
 
Description Collaboration with KU Leuven on micro-patterns for self-reinforced PP 
Organisation University of Leuven
Country Belgium 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution KU Leuven were interested in applying the concept of micro-cuts to pre-define the fracture surface to their work with self-reinforced PP. We have currently published a conference publication with this work.
Collaborator Contribution They have experience with a self-reinforced PP and a manufacturing one to produce their own thin-ply CF/PP pre-preg. They carried out the manufacturing work, and we contributed with the design and cutting of the micro-patterns.
Impact One conference publication: Jun Tang1, Arya Aslani1, Yentl Swolfs1, Gianmaria Bullegas2, Silvestre T. Pinho2, Stepan V. Lomov1, Larissa Gorbatikh1. EXPLORING DISCONTINUITIES AND HYBRIDIZATION TO DESIGN GRADUAL FAILURE IN UNIDIRECTIONAL CARBON FIBER/SELF-REINFORCED POLYPROPYLENE COMPOSITES. 21st International Conference on Composite Materials Xi'an, 20-25th August 2017. 1Department of Materials Engineering, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 44 bus 2450, 3001 Leuven, Belgium. 2Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, SW7 2AZ London, United Kingdom.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with Rolls Royce 
Organisation Aerospace Technology Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The fundamental developments from this fellowship are currently being exploited at higher TRL in a ATI-funded project with Rolls-Royce, namely: - Fantastical ( https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113190 ), 3 years project, started mid 2019, value to Imperial ~ £1M. One of the three WPs at Imperial is devoted to translation of fundamental insights on microstructures from the fellowship. I am the PI for this WP at Imperial. - Fandango ( https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113232 ), 3 years project, started January 2020, value to Imperial ~ £1M. All of Imperial's participation is devoted to translation of fundamental insights from the fellowship, HiPerDuCT (https://gow.epsrc.ukri.org/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/I02946X/1 ), and a Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship (Dr. S Pimenta). I am the PI for Fandango at Imperial.
Collaborator Contribution Rolls Royce provide an industrial application to the microstructure concepts developed, and help us guide the developments towards meeting their realistic engineering constraints, so that the novel microstructures initiated in this fellowship may be eventually used in practice in their components.
Impact So far, the outputs are only in the form of funded projected that have initiated in 2019/2020, as detailed above and repeated below for convenience: - Fantastical ( https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113190 ), 3 years project, started mid 2019, value to Imperial ~ £1M. One of the three WPs at Imperial is devoted to translation of fundamental insights on microstructures from the fellowship. I am the PI for this WP at Imperial. - Fandango ( https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113232 ), 3 years project, started January 2020, value to Imperial ~ £1M. All of Imperial's participation is devoted to translation of fundamental insights from the fellowship, HiPerDuCT (https://gow.epsrc.ukri.org/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/I02946X/1 ), and a Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship (Dr. S Pimenta). I am the PI for Fandango at Imperial.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with Rolls Royce 
Organisation Rolls Royce Group Plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The fundamental developments from this fellowship are currently being exploited at higher TRL in a ATI-funded project with Rolls-Royce, namely: - Fantastical ( https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113190 ), 3 years project, started mid 2019, value to Imperial ~ £1M. One of the three WPs at Imperial is devoted to translation of fundamental insights on microstructures from the fellowship. I am the PI for this WP at Imperial. - Fandango ( https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113232 ), 3 years project, started January 2020, value to Imperial ~ £1M. All of Imperial's participation is devoted to translation of fundamental insights from the fellowship, HiPerDuCT (https://gow.epsrc.ukri.org/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/I02946X/1 ), and a Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship (Dr. S Pimenta). I am the PI for Fandango at Imperial.
Collaborator Contribution Rolls Royce provide an industrial application to the microstructure concepts developed, and help us guide the developments towards meeting their realistic engineering constraints, so that the novel microstructures initiated in this fellowship may be eventually used in practice in their components.
Impact So far, the outputs are only in the form of funded projected that have initiated in 2019/2020, as detailed above and repeated below for convenience: - Fantastical ( https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113190 ), 3 years project, started mid 2019, value to Imperial ~ £1M. One of the three WPs at Imperial is devoted to translation of fundamental insights on microstructures from the fellowship. I am the PI for this WP at Imperial. - Fandango ( https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=113232 ), 3 years project, started January 2020, value to Imperial ~ £1M. All of Imperial's participation is devoted to translation of fundamental insights from the fellowship, HiPerDuCT (https://gow.epsrc.ukri.org/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/I02946X/1 ), and a Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship (Dr. S Pimenta). I am the PI for Fandango at Imperial.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Imperial College Festival 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Imperial College festival took place 28 and 29 April 2018, with children and their parents from all over the country visiting the festival. Back in 2016, we created the first version of a stand with the theme of the fellowship (more damage tolerant composite materials), and called it "The science of breaking stuff". We prepared several activities to engage children and teach them about the topic, including: - an activity where they built two versions of a composite. In both composites, they used paper (as a matrix) and a plastic preform as the reinforcement. The latter was cut in two different patterns, one promoting a complex fracture surface and the other not. Children were asked to predict which they thought was more difficult to break, before proceeding to breaking them in a tug-of-war fashion. - a microscope (linked to a TV screen) and actual samples of CFRP fracture surfaces for damage tolerant and non-damage tolerant scenarios. Children were explained how this related to what they had done; - a 3D printed scaled version of a fracture surface (to aid with the explanation of what they could see in the microscope. - an actual 3D printer printing CFRP composites. In 2018, we updated the stand and presented it accordingly.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.imperial.ac.uk/festival
 
Description Imperial College Festival 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Imperial College festival took place in 29 June 2019, with children and their parents from all over the country visiting the festival. Back in 2016, we created the first version of a stand with the theme of the fellowship (more damage tolerant composite materials), and called it "The science of breaking stuff". We prepared several activities to engage children and teach them about the topic, including: - an activity where they built two versions of a composite. In both composites, they used paper (as a matrix) and a plastic preform as the reinforcement. The latter was cut in two different patterns, one promoting a complex fracture surface and the other not. Children were asked to predict which they thought was more difficult to break, before proceeding to breaking them in a tug-of-war fashion. - a microscope (linked to a TV screen) and actual samples of CFRP fracture surfaces for damage tolerant and non-damage tolerant scenarios.
Children were explained how this related to what they had done; - a 3D printed scaled version of a fracture surface (to aid with the explanation of what they could see in the microscope. - an actual 3D printer printing CFRP composites. In 2018, and again in 2019, we updated the stand and presented it accordingly.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.imperial.ac.uk/festival
 
Description Imperial College Festival: The science of breaking things 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Imperial College festival took place over 2 days (7 & 8 of May 2016), with children and their parents from all over the country visiting the festival. We created a stand with the theme of the fellowship (more damage tolerant composite materials), and called it "The science of breaking stuff". We prepared several activities to engage children and teach them about the topic, including:
- an activity where they built two versions of a composite. In both composites, they used paper (as a matrix) and a plastic preform as the reinforcement. The latter was cut in two different patterns, one promoting a complex fracture surface and the other not. Children were asked to predict which they thought was more difficult to break, before proceeding to breaking them in a tug-of-war fashion.
- a microscope (linked to a TV screen) and actual samples of CFRP fracture surfaces for damage tolerant and non-damage tolerant scenarios. Children were explained how this related to what they had done;
- a 3D printed scaled version of a fracture surface (to aid with the explanation of what they could see in the microscope.
- an actual 3D printer printing CFRP composites.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.imperial.ac.uk/festival/about/festival-2016/