MACANTA:Multifunctional hierarchical advanced composite aerostructures utilising the combined properties of different carbon nanotube (CNT) assemblies

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Abstract

The advent of carbon-fibre composite passenger aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350, has been primarily driven by the need to reduce structural weight. Higher operating efficiencies per revenue passenger kilometre also contribute to a reduction in environmental impact where 1 kg of fuel saved equates to a reduction of 3.15 kg of CO2 emissions. Indeed the European Union has set ambitious aircraft emission reduction targets by 2050 as the level of commercial air traffic is set to continue doubling every fifteen years. The high specific strength and stiffness, and corrosion and fatigue resistance of carbon-fibre composite materials, make them highly suitable for lightweight aerostructures. In laminated form, these superior properties are tempered by the material's relatively low through-thickness strength and fracture toughness which makes composite structures susceptible to impact damage. Carbon-fibre composites also have low electrical conductivity which necessitates the need for additional measures to ensure adequate lightning strike protection. The industry has adopted the use of a fine metallic mesh incorporated into the aerodynamic surfaces. This approach adds unnecessary weight to the structure as well as increasing manufacture and maintenance complexity. Composite materials also have low thermal conductivity which impacts on the design of anti-icing systems.

In recent years, a number of research groups have explored the unique properties of nanoparticles dispersed in resin or introduced between lamina interfaces, to address these limitations. The use of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) especially, generated much excitement due their phenomenal structural and transport properties. The results to date have been highly variable and have fallen well short of expectations. This is partly due to a lack of interdisciplinary collaboration where fundamental questions, requiring input from chemists, physicists, material scientists and research engineers, were not adequately investigated. The proposed research in MACANTA aims to rectify this by bringing together a team with highly complementary expertise to increase the fundamental understanding of the influence of physical and chemical characteristics of different CNT assemblies in pursuit of developing multifunctional composites which mitigate the known shortcomings as well as providing additional functionality.

A unique aspect of MACANTA is the emphasis on understanding and exploiting the different forms of CNT assemblies to best serve specific functions and integrated within a single structure. The team has the unique capability of producing very high quality CNTs, produced as highly-aligned 'forests'. These may be harnessed in this form and strategically placed between plies to increase through-thickness fracture toughness. Beyond simply dispersing within the matrix, they may also be 'sheared' to produce aligned buckypaper, drawn into very thin webs or spun into yarns, where their respective electrical and thermal conductivity will be investigated. These CNT assemblies will be assessed for improving lightning strike protection and providing anti-icing capability. The piezoresistive property of CNT webs will also be explored for in-situ structural health monitoring of adhesively bonded composite joints.

The successful completion of the research proposed in MACANTA will culminate in the manufacture of a set of demonstrator multifunctional composite panels. They will represent a significant advancement in the state-of-the-art and provide a competitive advantage to interested stakeholders. It will also provide an ideal training platform for the development of skills of three postdoctoral researchers and two associated PhD students funded by QUB.

Planned Impact

The UK aerospace industry is the second largest, after the USA's, contributing £24 billion to the economy and supporting over 230,000 jobs. The sector faces new challenges in delivering lower development, manufacturing and operational costs, compounded by increasing global competition for market share. The advent of carbon-fibre composite passenger aircraft, to reduce structural weight, has placed additional pressures, especially on the civilian sector, to maintain its competitiveness and innovative advantage. Competition in the design, development and manufacture of advanced composite structures, from the rest of Europe, South America and the Far East, not to mention a developing supply-chain capability in North Africa, means that the UK has to maintain its drive towards incessant innovation. MACANTA, has the potential to lead to a disruptive technology in the development of the next generation of composite aerostructures. By exploiting the unique properties of different carbon nanotube (CNT) assemblies, integrated within a composite structure, MACANTA aims to deliver a multifunctional capability overcoming current known limitations of low electrical and thermal conductivity and through-thickness fracture toughness when compared to traditional aluminium alloys used in aircraft structures. Addressing these limitations will mitigate the need for additional measures which add weight and maintenance complexity to the structure. Moreover, MACANTA will explore additional functionality beyond these shortcomings, such as the introduction of structural health monitoring at critical adhesively bonded joints. By being at the forefront of innovation and actively seeking expedient exploitation routes, the industry will be well positioned to strengthen its global share of airframe development and manufacture. From a product end-user perspective, i.e. primarily airline operators, the emergence of multifunctional composites will deliver enhanced operational efficiencies which will contribute to a reduced environmental impact.

The School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is committed to further strengthening the research capability, knowledge and skills in the area of nano-enhanced composites and to this end has funded the establishment of a very-high-specification CNT production facility. The quality of commercially available CNTs is not reliable and this has compromised a number of research programmes. Bombardier Aerospace Belfast, in recognition of the substantial potential of this research in delivering step changes in its future composite nacelles and wing programmes, has pledged generous in-kind contributions, as outlined in the Statement of Support. Other companies, with a UK footprint, involved in the production of composite aerostructures, including GKN Aerospace (see Statement of Support), Agusta-Westland, Spirit Aerosystems (Prestwick), BAE Systems and Airbus are additional potential beneficiaries of technologies developed in MACANTA. The developed composite functionality will further be relevant to other sectors, including the automotive (e.g. Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan UK, Bentley, Formula 1 constructors) and wind energy industries (Vestas). Carbon-fibre composite manufacturers Hexcel and Cytec have each provided Statements of Support which attest to the high relevance of the proposed research.

With two PhD Students and three PDRAs involved in the research, the programme will provide multidisciplinary skills to a cohort of researchers and engineers. Queen's University Belfast is an exemplar institution in Knowledge Transfer partnerships, with 350 over 15 years, 80% with SMES, resulting in 400 subsequent graduates placements and generating an annual income of £1.8 Million as a sustaining consequence. MACANTA will be seeking to use this well established knowledge exchange route to local and national supply chain SMES and Tier 1 and 2 companies.

Publications

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Russello M (2020) Welding of thermoplastics by means of carbon-nanotube web in Composites Communications

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Yao X. (2016) Aligned carbon nanotube webs in aerospace carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites for anti-icing/de-icing in ECCM 2016 - Proceeding of the 17th European Conference on Composite Materials

 
Description Background

The MACANTA project's primary objective was to explore the use of different carbon nanotubes (CNT) architectures to enhance the properties and functionality of carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite materials and structures for aerospace applications. The study focused on interlaminar fracture toughness (InterLFT); anti-icing / de-icing (AI/DI); lightning strike protection (LSP); and structural health monitoring (SHM).

One particular form or morphology of the CNT which the study focused on was the 'directly drawn CNT' web which has been shown to possess a range of potentially useful and appropriate characteristics for the intended realm of application. Specifically, the CNT web comprises nanotubes with a wall strength of over 100 GPa and tensile modulus of over 1 TPa, drawn into a transparent web or ribbon of around 50 nm thickness and areal density of 1.5 - 2 mg / m2. The CNTs of the web are highly aligned and strongly cohesive in the draw direction making the web very stiff, conductive, and piezoresistive in that orientation but not so in the lateral dimension and hence highly anisotropic and conformable to complex curves. The CNT web is essentially free of metal catalyst and fully compatible with CFRP materials.

A CNT web is drawn from specially grown CNT 'forests' of parallel aligned CNTs on silicon wafer substrates, with 1 linear mm of forest producing 500 - 1000 linear mm of CNT web. The web can be used as drawn, or laterally collapsed into a cylindrical yarn (with or without twisting). The forest can be utilised in that form or 'domino-tipped' by shear/compression into an aligned CNT ('bucky') paper. Otherwise the forest CNT can be dispersed into a solvent and redeposited as a randomised CNT paper, or used as the dispersion in a polymer to strengthen it or render it electrically conductive, even at vanishingly low loadings. The objectives of the MACANTA project encompassed the use singly or in combination of all of these CNT morphologies to provide multiple functionalities to the CFRP.

Outcomes of the MACANTA Project

Significant progress has been made across all areas of research addressed by the MACANTA project with key outputs being; enhanced research capabilities, journal papers, conference presentations, PhD awards, patent applications and consequential projects and collaborations as detailed below.

CVD Reactor

An important aspect of the MACANTA project was the design, establishment and operation of a chemical vapour deposition (CVD) reactor system for the synthesis of CNT web and other high specification CNT materials. This was achieved within the first six months using temporary accommodation and more recently moved to a purpose-designed laboratory.

InterLFT

Interlaminar fracture toughness is a key parameter of CFRP composite performance as delamination is a primary mode of failure for this material. Key findings were that InterLFT can experience some decline due to the inclusion of CNT web between the CFRP plies [9%, Nistal 2019]. However, chemical modification of the CNT surface, preferably by physical adsorption of volatile crosslinking agents, can substantially improvement InterLFT [13%, or 24% compared to the pristine web]. The study also identified that there is a class of epoxy resin with which CNT forms a very weak interface, resulting in a 60% decrease in InterLFT for even one layer of CNT web. Importantly however, the study also revealed a highly effective way of measuring interfacial strength and distinguishing this from the effects of CNT morphology. Thus, while 10 layers of CNT web produced a 60% loss of strength compared with the pristine control, the same amount of CNT dispersed in the same amount of interlaminar resin resulted in a 3% gain in strength, or a 156% increase compared with the web morphology.

The insertion of CNT web at the interlaminar interface was followed by a study of growing CNT forests directly onto thin carbon fibre ply (~15 µm ) which led to a significant increase in elctrothermal through-thickness conductivity.

The work on direct CNT growth on CF, and the issue of interfacial interaction inspired another area of research by one of the MACANTA PDRAs, and a new PhD project. Glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRC) composite is also used in aerospace applications where emf transparency or electrical or thermal insulation are important, such as radar domes, electrothermal heaters and sensors. GFRC was used in the development of the sensors for SHM as discussed below. InterLFT is also an important issue for GRFC and the PhD work has found, by analogy with the CNT research, that cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) can be incorporated into the GFRP composite at the fibre-polymer interface to greatly enhance toughness, whilst retaining the GFRP insulating and transparency properties.

MACANTA has attracted visiting students to work on the project and underpinned new PhD research projects. The InterLFT section of the project has thus far produced one PhD thesis and four journal papers with one more in preparation, in addition to two related PhD projects and a further project proposal. This work is in the TRL 1-3 range and hence still developing a fundamental understanding of the resin / CNT interactions and mechanisms that influence it.

AI / DI

The anti-icing / de-icing (AI/DI) aspect of the MACANTA project was addressed by a successful PhD student (through leveraged funding) who was able to fabricate and demonstrate a CNT web heater 8,000 times lighter than an equivalent carbon fibre-based heater and with faster and more uniform heating. The project also produced a numerical model of the electrothermal behaviour of the highly anisotropic (or orthotropic) CNT web based upon a resistance analogy to composite laminate theory. The result is a capacity to design and fabricate heater elements that are either extremely uniform in heating, or can be biased to provide a desired heating profile over complex surfaces. A further consequence is that CNT web heaters are both impact damage tolerant - a penetration only results in an isolated cold spot that is readily detectable by thermography - but also are potentially easily repairable.

This section of the MACANTA project has produced a PhD thesis and three journal papers as well as conference presentations and a patent application. The work has also attracted significant industry interest and resulted in the award of a recently commenced 12 month Invest NI Proof of Concept project (£112k) to employ a PDRA to fabricate and demonstrate a scaled up- version of the AI/DI device, and to progress the interaction towards commercial development. The demonstrator is being fabricated as a segment of a jet engine inlet cowling, one of the key targets for AI/DI in flight. The AI/DI work has also informed the work of a new PhD project to study the use of CNT web transducers as heating element in thermoplastic welding. This work has already resulted in two journal papers and two patent applications, and has considerable industry interest and material support, particularly from Fokker / GKN. A further 12 month Invest NI Proof of Concept project (£112k) has also been approved to progress this work.
SHM

A critical step on the path for CFRP to reach its potential in aerospace primary structures is to fully understand the operational lifetimes and failure modes for the various components. This requires sensor elements that are simple, reliable, robust, and lightweight, and fully compatible with CFRP, to monitor and report the status, and the onset and mode of incipient failure. The structural health monitoring (SHM) component of the MACANTA project utilises single CNT web layers as sensor elements within CFRP and GRFP adhesive joints, which are the areas of particular concern for complex assemblies. The web is piezo-resistive and fully compatible with the composite so are exquisitely sensitive to the development of damage as the joints come under stress. The dsCNT web structure is such that the sensor records various aspects of the peak load and accumulated damage experienced by the joint. Research is continuing to develop the capacity to see where, in the area of the sensor, the damage is occurring and to characterise it more fully - for example whether within or at the edge of the joint, and whether one large fracture or multiple small fractures are forming.
The SHM work is continuing, with dual layer, self-supporting and CFRP compatible versions under development. Thus far the project has resulted in one journal publication, with one more in preparation, and two international conference presentations.

LSP

Historically, aircraft are struck by lightning on average about once per year. For modern aircraft, this is now not usually a loss-of-control incident (although may have caused or contributed to a crash in 2019 resulting in 40 fatalities). However, it does cause significant and potentially disastrous damage to composite components because of their relatively poor surface conductivity and hence potential for deep penetration of damaging voltages, and the explosive vaporisation of the resin at the point of attachment due to extremely rapid heating. Lightning strike protection (LSP, or more correctly, lightning strike mitigation), is currently achieved by, for example, including a layer of copper mesh within the composite structure. Whilst effective, the mesh is a parasitic weight that makes no structural contribution and which is potentially susceptible to corrosion and delamination.

The LSP phase of MACANTA sought to develop alternative treatments to metals based upon the various carbon nanotube assemblies/morphologies in combination with other carbon materials such as graphene, graphite and carbon fibre. The rationale for this approach is that the carbon materials can mitigate lightning strike whilst also being fully compatible with the CFRP composite and potentially being able to contribute additional functionalities such as improved InterLFT, AI/DI and SHM.
The LSP project has been pursued by two PDRAs and has proven to be a most complex and challenging undertaking. The conventional approach has been to endeavour to maximise surface conductivity to emulate metal-skinned aircraft, however this tends to lead back to various forms of metal mesh, foil or sponge. The issues of compatibility etc notwithstanding, metal was initially explored using dispersed CNT as a support for silver however the metal loading required was still unacceptably high. The approach subsequently adopted has been to design the surface material such that it reduces the depth of damage, the aim being to reduce the probability of full penetration and to reduce the cost and complexity of repair. A total of twelve different carbon-based surface material constructs were prepared upon a common CFRP base and including copper foil and unprotected sample controls.

The second major challenge in this work was identifying the appropriate facility, current and voltage parameters and probe geometry, sample properties and sample holder to conduct the lightning strike tests. A commercial supplier was finally identified who were extremely cooperative in assisting us to apply the selected conditions based upon an adaptation of published parameters and running test strikes to adjust parameters prior to final strike treatments.
The third major challenge in the LSP program has been the analysis of the tested samples, of which there are over 50 specimens. This first entailed non-destructive analysis by high resolution ultrasonography and conducted very carefully so as not to disturb any loosened surface material. The next analysis was planned to be the destructive 'compression after impact' (CAI) test. However, trial operation of this test, which entails in-plane crushing of the 125 mm square specimens, gave an unacceptably high level of variability despite extensive modification of the CAI fittings and instrumentation. Hence the decision was made to wet-saw the specimens into 5 strips each and conduct three-point bend testing. This phase of the analysis is currently underway but initial results are very positive, with performance in some test samples comparable to the copper mesh control. The results of this part of the MACANTA project are anticipated to be published as three journal articles currently in preparation.

Conclusions

The MACANTA project has aimed to address four major issues facing the utilisation of carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites in aerospace applications, namely interlaminar fracture toughness, anti-icing/de-icing, structural health monitoring, and lightning strike protection. The primary route for this work has been by the application of carbon nanotube web in combination other carbon nanotube assemblies/morphologies and other carbon materials, together with creating the in-house capacity to synthesis carbon nanotube. The project has been very successful in exploring solutions and approaches to all of the issues addressed, with outputs varying from the establishment of the complex materials and methodologies required for the lightning strike phase with very promising results currently in process, through to multiple publications in high impact journals and conference presentations; two completed PhD programs and two more following on; two follow up proof of concept project and prospects of further related projects. The project has enabled the establishment of a CNT synthesis capability and supported the building of a substantial and highly productive Advanced Composites Research Group.
Exploitation Route Two Proof of Concept projects, funded by the local development agency, Invest Northern Ireland, are currently underway to progress two technologies which were first developed within MACANTA
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

URL https://blog.qub.ac.uk/wordpress/macanta/
 
Description A lightweight solid-state energy-efficient electro-thermal nacelle anti-icing device utilising ultra-thin highly-aligned carbon nanotube webs
Amount £112,446 (GBP)
Funding ID PoC821 
Organisation Invest Northern Ireland 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 06/2021
 
Description Distinguished Visiting Fellowship scheme
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Funding ID DVF1617\6\12 
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 08/2017
 
Description Ultra-thin CNT web based inserts for innovative welding of thermoplsatics
Amount £112,486 (GBP)
Funding ID PoC900 
Organisation Invest Northern Ireland 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2020 
End 10/2021
 
Description Visiting Professorship
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 66483 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 08/2017
 
Description William & Betty MacQuitty Travel Scholarship
Amount £500 (GBP)
Organisation Queen's University Belfast 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2017 
End 08/2017
 
Title Analytical method for determining the electrical conductivity of multidirectional and mutlilayered highly-aligned CNT web. 
Description An analytical model based on the thermal conduction theory of anisotropic solids was developed to predict the electrical conductivity of general multi-layered and multi-directional CNT webs. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - non-mammalian in vivo 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This analytical tool is currently being used to design a proof of concept anti-icing/de-icing device of aircraft engine nacelles. 
 
Title CVD Reactor System for CNT Research in Advanced Aerospace Composites 
Description With the impetus and support provided by the MACANTA project, Queen's University Belfast repurposed, refurbished and equipped a laboratory within the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering with the gas reticulation, ventilation, power and and safety systems to enable the synthesis and utilisation of very high specification carbon nanotubes (CNT) particularly of the 'directly spinnable' form (dsCNT). This unusual facility, which is within the Advanced Composites Research Group, provides a combination of skills and capabilities within one school that is unique in the UK. The facility and processes use have undergone further development during the MACANTA project and will be described in the literature when settled. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The skills and facilities to synthesise, process, and utilise CNT and related nanomaterials have underpinned the entire MACANTA project and its outputs and outcomes, and hence have significantly contributed to its success. They are now supporting additional PhD and proof of concept projects. 
URL https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/acrg/
 
Title Modelling of dsCNT Web Electrothermal Behaviour 
Description This mathematical model applies to the resistance and hence electrothermal performance of directly spinnable carbon nanotube (dsCNT) web assemblies by analogy with composite theory and enables prediction and design of, for example, electrothermal heaters for Anti-Icing / De-Icing in aerospace applications. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This model is currently supporting the design and fabrication of a large scale device for proof of concept and demonstration of the use of dsCNT web as an electrothermal heater in Anti-ecing / De-icing for aerospace applicatons. 
 
Description Assis. Prof Andriy Katunin 
Organisation Silesian University of Technology
Country Poland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have offered co-authorship of papers, resulting from this collaboration, to Assis. Prof Andriy Katunin
Collaborator Contribution We have built collaboration with Assis. Prof Andriy Katunin at the Silesian University of Technology to assist the group with lightning strike tests and X-ray computed tomography.
Impact Assist. Prof Andriy Katunin contributed to the Lightning strike tests with his very important advice regarding the parameters which have been used for the tests.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Bombardier Lightning Strike Study 
Organisation Bombardier Inc.
Department Bombardier United Kingdom
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have had extensive discussions to explore the nature of lighning strike effects in composites and how these might be mitigated.
Collaborator Contribution Bombardier have helped us with non-destructive testing methodologies and interpretation (high resolution ultrasonography) applicable to lightning strike tests.
Impact The key outcome from this collaboration is a better understanding of the mechanisms and effects of lightning strike on composite materials. Comprehensive analysis of test samples has been greatly improved by this interaction and will be recognised in a forthcoming presentation.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Dielectric properties measurement 
Organisation Jilin University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The preparation and development of composites and test specimens were performed in our lab
Collaborator Contribution All the necessary step to measure the dielectric properties were performed by Wenhan Xu at National & Local Joint Engineering Laboratory for Synthetic Technology of High Performance Polymer, College of Chemistry, Jilin University, Changchun 130012, People's Republic of China
Impact The work has been submitted to ECCM, 2018 conference in Athens for oral presentation
Start Year 2017
 
Description Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry 
Organisation Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
Department Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry
Country Spain 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The collaboration is based on gaining access to certain equipment and expertise and, in return, offer co-authorship of ensuing publications.
Collaborator Contribution Dr. Garcia-Diego, at the Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry in Madrid, Spain, is an expert in the use of XPS and is collaborating with my research group in the characterisation of CNT assemblies used in the MACANTA project.
Impact To date, the collaborating institution has tested a number of samples for the group and provided comprehensive data sets.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Institute of Glass and Ceramics 
Organisation Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
Department Institute of Glass and Ceramic
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution To date, there have been no direct contributions from the group although joint publications are planned.
Collaborator Contribution The group has established a collaborative relationship with Dr. Juan Rubio, from the Institute of Glass and Ceramics (ICV-CSIC), based in Madrid, Spain. Dr. Juan Rubio has vast experience with Raman spectroscopy and is assisting in the characterisation of CNT assemblies used in the MACANTA project. In addition the group also has access to other techniques available at the ICV-CSIC, such as FTIR, TGA, adsorption-desorption isotherms of N2, AFM, and Raman coupled to AFM, among others.
Impact The group has received Raman Spectroscopy results of the samples delivered to ICV-CSIC in late 2016.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Lightning strike tests 
Organisation Warsaw University of Technology
Country Poland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have offered co-authorship of papers, resulting from this collaboration, to Assis. Prof Przemyslaw Sul and Dr Andrzej Lasica
Collaborator Contribution We have built collaboration with Assis. Prof Przemyslaw Sul and Dr Andrzej Lasica at the Warsaw University of Technology to assist the group with lightning strike tests. We have free access to a lightning impulse generator.
Impact Various specimens with and without lightning strike protection were tested under artificial lightning strike current up to 10 kA.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Lintec 
Organisation Lintec of America Ltd
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution My research team will be providing expertise in the exploitation of directly-drawn CNT webs for aerospace and other applications.
Collaborator Contribution Lintec of America Ltd are commercialising directly-drawn CNT webs and they plan to provide us with these products to supplement and compare with our own high-specification CNT webs that we are producing in-house.
Impact At this early stage, no outcomes or outputs have resulted from this collaboration.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Mr Lionel Demoulin and Dr Steve Mortimer 
Organisation Hexcel Composites Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution In recognition of the in-kind assistance provided by Hexcel, we will provide non-confidential information regarding the utilization and performance of RTM6 in the various functional applications and with carbon nanomaterials.
Collaborator Contribution Mr Lionel Demoulin (Airbus Programs Development Manager, Hexcel Corp. France) and Dr Steve Mortimer (Research Associate, Hexcel UK) have been consulted with respect to the behaviour and application of epoxy resins with emphasis on resin infusion and resin transfer moulding. Hexcel corporation have kindly supplied the Advanced Composites Research Group, QUB, with substantial quantities of the widely used aerospace grade polymer, RTM6 and advice on applications and processing.
Impact Mr. Demoulin and Dr Mortimer have provided valuable information and insight into the resin transfer moulding and resin infusion processes as well as providing a substantial quantity of a valuable epoxy resin product for research purposes.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Nanoworld Laboratories 
Organisation University of Cincinnati
Department Nanoworld Laboratories
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Knowledge sharing in the exploitation of CNT assemblies for multifunctional applications.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of substrates for growing highly-aligned CNT forests in our lab.
Impact A number of substrates have been received.
Start Year 2016
 
Description PolyTech A/S Lightning Strike Testing 
Organisation PolyTech
Country Denmark 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have engaged in detailed discussions and provided insights to the approaches and experiments to mitigate the effects of lightning strike on aerospace composites. The company is normally engaged in work with wind turbine testing and developments.
Collaborator Contribution PolyTech provided us with considerable insights and information regarding lightning strike testing and guided us in the creation of suitable test specimens and specimen holders. They undertook the machining of specially designed strike test probes and conducted test setups and strikes prior to formal engagement to test our specimens.
Impact The collaboration has successfully generated a body of lightning strike test specimens with excellent control of parameters. The specimens are currently being destructively analysed and the outcomes will be published in three forthcoming journal papers.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Prof Zhichun Zhang, Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), China 
Organisation Harbin Institute of Technology
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Exchange of experience and insights regarding the challenges of lightning strike protection and testing and structural health monitoring, and fabrication of specimens.
Collaborator Contribution Prof Zhang visited for 6 months and contributed his experience in sample fabrication.
Impact Prof Zhang's experience in silver deposition on CNT structures, and fabrication of large strain sensors assisted in progressing research.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Professor Manu Haddad 
Organisation Cardiff University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In anticipation of t collaboration on composite structures designed to mitigate the damage from lightning strike, Professor Haddad was offered co-authorship of relevant publications.
Collaborator Contribution Professor Haddad kindly agreed to assist with the guidance of the MACANTA project. He provided valuable insights into the problems lightning of strike protection and the challenges of testing specimens in a realistic fashion and offered access to the Lightning Research Laboratory on a fee for service basis for when the project was advanced enough in scale and performance to warrant that level of testing.
Impact Professor Haddad provided a valuable insight into the phenomenon of lightning strike and its simulation under laboratory conditions, as well as the requirements and constraints of testing.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Professor Mark Schulz, University of Cincinnati 
Organisation University of Cincinnati
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Background information and guidance in the production and handling of carbon nanomaterials
Collaborator Contribution Professor Mark Schulz (University of Cincinnati, USA). Agreed to assist with steering the MACANT project. He was visited by Prof. Hawkins on 23-25th May, 2016 and contacted since regarding concepts, approaches and problems in MACANTA project research. The interim published results will be presented at an upcoming meeting 21-22nd May 2018, and unpublished results and issues discussed with him on 23rd May.
Impact Professor Schulz has provided valuable guidance and support for the approaches being taken in the MACANTA project.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Professor Peter Foote 
Organisation Cranfield University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-authorship of work conducted in collaboration with Prof Foote's research group particularly in the area of sensor development was anticipated.
Collaborator Contribution Professor Peter Foote kindly agreed to help guide the MACANTA project in the area of structural health monitoring and provided valuable insights into issues such as broad area and nodal sensing patterns and signal processing. He unexpectedly retired later in the year so further collaboration was not possible.
Impact Professor Foote provided valuable guidance in the area of structural health monitoring, particularly with regard to the effect of sensors on the structure being monitored and the need to ensure they do not change the structural characteristics.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Royal Academy of Engineering Distinguished Visiting Fellowship Scheme 
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Advanced Composites Research Group, which I lead, hosted Professor Pascal Hubert, from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, for a period of four months (May - August 2017). During this time, Prof Pascal was given desk space and a Personal Computer, and full access to the Advanced Composites Research Laboratory and the Material Characterisation Laboratory.
Collaborator Contribution Prof. Hubert proposed the development of a new non-intrusive pressure sensor at the tool composite laminate interface or in different locations inside the laminate. The measurement of pressure distribution in corners is necessary to validate and guide the theoretical and numerical development of the corner compaction mechanisms. The sensor design requirements were identified (e.g. pressure range from 0 to 10 bar, temperature range is 20C-200C). Following meetings with Profs. Falzon and Hawkins, the carbon nanotube webs developed at Queen's University Belfast, were selected as the multifunctional material to be combined with a soft polymer (e.g. PDMS) in order to create a strain sensitive diaphragm that would deform under pressure. The resistance change caused by the deformation could be calibrated over the target temperature and pressure range. Towards the end of Prof. Hubert's visit, the work plan for the sensor development was established and steps to manufacture CNT/PDMS samples were undertaken. Prof. Hubert also delivered a number of lectures: May 12 2017, Queen's University Belfast, "Composite Materials Research Program at McGill" / June 7 2017, NIACE, "Composite Materials Research Program at McGill" / July 18, 2017, NIACE, "Composite Repairs Project at McGill" / August 14, 2017, NIACE, "Smart tooling and recycling of composites research at McGill" This collaboration also allowed Prof. Hubert to interact with Bombardier Aerospace in Belfast. He already had several research projects with Bombardier in Quebec, but never visited the facilities in Belfast. A visit to the C-Series composite wing fabrication facilities helped identify areas of potential future collaboration between Bombardier Aerospace in Quebec and Northern Ireland with McGill and Queen's University. As a follow up to these meetings and visits, Prof. Hubert invited Mr. Braniff, from Bombardier, to deliver a keynote talk at the Industrial Forum of the Research Center for High Performance Polymer and Composite Systems on September 20 2017 in Montreal. His talk was very well received and a follow up meeting with Prof. Hubert and the director of strategic research at Bombardier Montreal was organized to discuss research topic ideas on repairs, recycling and heated tooling technologies.
Impact A series of action were initiated to ensure the sustainability of the collaboration between the Advanced Composites Research Group led by Prof. Falzon and the McGill Structures and Composite Materials Laboratory led by Prof. Hubert. Plans are in development to exchange graduate students working on the research topics addressed during Prof. Hubert's visit. The Flaherty Research Scholarship was identified as a possible funding mechanism to pay for the visit of graduate students over the period of four to six weeks. Additionally, McGill's Institute of Aerospace Engineering can provide funding for a visiting graduate student from McGill to a foreign institution to conduct research in the aerospace field. Longer term funding programs have also been identified during the visit.
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Catania 
Organisation University of Catania
Department Department of Industrial Engineering
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Discussions have been initiated with Prof Gianluca Cicala to explore collaboration in polymers and nanomaterials, Prof Cicala was also invited to spend two days with my research group (24th - 25th October 2016).
Collaborator Contribution Prof Cicala gave a seminar to my research group and held numerous meetings with individuals within the group. His expertise in polymer science was of considerable value and his insight into thermoplastic polymers and thermoplastic-toughened thermosets, was instrumental in enabling the group to explain certain observed phenomena,
Impact No direct outputs to date,
Start Year 2016
 
Description University of Patras 
Organisation University of Patras
Department Laboratory of Palaeontology and Stratigraphy
Country Greece 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have offered co-authorship of papers, resulting from this collaboration, to Dr Stavros Tsanzalis.
Collaborator Contribution We have built collaboration with Dr. Stavros Tsantzalis at the University of Patras to assist the group with thermal conductivity measurements. We have free access to a thermal analyzer which used a modified transient plane source (MTPS) technique.
Impact Dr Tsanzalis has analysed a number of specimens for the group. A draft journal paper has been produced with joint authorship.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Article in The Belfast Telegraph 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A newspaper article in Northern Ireland's leading regional newspaper.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/queens-scientists-in-breakthrough-to-stop-d...
 
Description EPSRC RISE Making Connections 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In 2017 Prof Falzon was the recipient of an EPSRC RISE: Making Connections award, where he was provided with media and policy training. An event was held at Central Hall Westminster on 1st February 2018, in the form of a 'Talkaoke' - a TV-style talk show debate on the theme 'Please don't Let Me Be Misunderstood: Making Sense of Science'. The Talkaoke panel included senior industry members and academics, representatives from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and politicians.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Korea. Presentation and discussions. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact KAIST was visited by Prof. S.C. Hawkins to present the objectives and published outcomes of the MACANTA project; to learn of the work of this premier teaching and research organisation and to stimulate prospects for collaboration and partnership.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Local radio station, Q-radio, interview and article on anti-icing/de-icing device developed as part of MACANTA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A news item that featured on a Northern Ireland radio station Q-radio with 289,000 listeners per week.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.goqradio.com/belfast/news/q-radio-local-news/queens-flying-high-with-groundbreaking-syste...
 
Description Online news item reported by ADS, and a feature article in their print magazine ADVANCE, on a new anti-icing/de-icing system developed in MACANTA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact ADS (Aerospace Defence Security Space) on-line article:
https://www.adsgroup.org.uk/news/member-news/queen-s-researchers-develop-ice-build-up-prevention-solution-for-aircraft/

ADVANCE (The official publication of ADS) print article:
https://www.adsadvance.co.uk/queen-s-researchers-develop-ice-build-up-prevention-solution-for-aircraft.html

ADS is the Premier Trade Organisation for companies in the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Sectors. Membership is made up of over 1000 UK registered businesses.

ADS activities are focused around the following key areas:

Influencing the policy debates of most importance to our industries
Supporting UK manufacturing and our industries' supply chains
Encouraging investments in technology and innovation
Supporting business development opportunities
Increasing Member value through a range of services
Enhancing the profile of our industries

Farnborough International Limited (FIL), which runs the Farnborough International Airshow, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ADS Group Ltd.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.adsgroup.org.uk/news/member-news/queen-s-researchers-develop-ice-build-up-prevention-sol...
 
Description Queen's University Belfast Facebook live stream 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a live interview on the Queen's University Belfast's facebook page which is still available for streaming. The objective of this exercise was to promote the University and its world-leading research. At the time of writing, the interview had been viewed more than 48,000 times.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.facebook.com/QUBelfast/videos/1061089927404661/
 
Description SEM Prize in the Cambridge University Department of Engineering 2017 ZEISS Photography Competition 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The University of Cambridge Department of Engineering Photography competition received national media coverage as evidenced by the links below:
1. Dailymail: https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwivmcnwhdXXAhXEXBoKHeOOD8AQFgguMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailymail.co.uk%2Fnews%2Farticle-5098211%2FStunning-photographs-reveal-beauty-hidden-laboratories.html&usg=AOvVaw0BeTj_6LO8-5ClnOUmrcje

2. Belfast Telegraph: https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwivmcnwhdXXAhXEXBoKHeOOD8AQFgg3MAM&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.belfasttelegraph.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk%2Fstriking-metal-peacock-feathers-among-cambridge-university-photo-contest-entries-36335773.html&usg=AOvVaw2Y5vwm3XYvxQaCr5zk55fV

3. Lancashire Telegraph: https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwivmcnwhdXXAhXEXBoKHeOOD8AQFggxMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fnational%2F15671628.Striking_metal_peacock_feathers_among_Cambridge_University_photo_contest_entries%2F&usg=AOvVaw2Yxm54duu8G4mrHpyQE7rx

4. East Lothian Courier: https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwivmcnwhdXXAhXEXBoKHeOOD8AQFggoMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eastlothiancourier.com%2Fnews%2F15671628.Striking_metal_peacock_feathers_among_Cambridge_University_photo_contest_entries%2F&usg=AOvVaw2mfhsTRhd1flPdcmepk7FM
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.eng.cam.ac.uk/news/beauty-engineering
 
Description School Visits 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at QUB hosted a series of regional events to promote STEM subjects to primary and high school students. Two members of my research group, working on MACANTA, visited a number of schools where they explained to students the extraordinary properties of carbon nanotubes as well as the basics of carbon-fibre material. Feedback from the schools suggested that the students were keen to explore the subjects discussed further. These visits were followed by a number of students coming to the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering during our open day events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Seoul National University (SNU), Korea. Presentation and discussion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact SNU was visited by Prof. S.C. Hawkins to present the objectives and published outcomes of the MACANTA project; to learn of the work of this premier teaching and research organisation and to stimulate prospects for collaboration and partnership.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Korea. Presentation and Discussions on CNT enhanced composites 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact UNIST was visited by Prof. S.C. Hawkins to present the objectives and published outcomes of the MACANTA project; to learn of the work of this premier teaching and research organisation; and to stimulate prospects for collaboration and partnership. A project proposal is in preparation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description University of Wollongong (UoW), Australia. Presentation and discussion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact UoW was visited by Prof. S.C. Hawkins to present the objectives and published outcomes of the MACANTA project; to learn of the work of this premier teaching and research organisation and to stimulate prospects for collaboration and partnership. A project proposal is in preparation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019