Multi-functional skins incorporating carbon (MuSIC)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


This project is a collaboration between Haydale Ltd, Thales and University of Bath. The aim of the project is to assess the
feasibility of employing graphene based polymer skins for sensing and deicing applications. The are major issues
associated with deicing are in aircarft, at airports, transmission power lines, instrumentation, antenna masks, wind turbines
and the exploration of cold environments (e.g. oil and gas). Such a sensing surface can be integrated with thermally active
(shape changing) structures to achieve structural deflection for combined thermal-mechanical de-icing. The opportunity to
limit the extent of ice build-up on structures has broad application opportunities and enable light weight structures with
reduced material costs and fuel saving for mobile applications and improved performance for instrumentation.

Planned Impact

The are major issues associated with deicing with aircarft, airports, transmission power lines, wind turbines, antenna masks/instrumentation, and the exploration of cold environments (e.g. oil and gas). The business opportunity is therefore to exploit the thermal properties of graphene and the patent protected functionalisation process of Haydale to produce well dispersed graphene polymer skins that are compatible with a range of engeering surfaces with a sensing and heating function for deicng applications. When the heating skin is combined with structural materials with a thermal mismatch there is the ability to use thermal strain as an efficient and innovative electro-thermal-mechanical deicing system. Thales are endusers to examine the performance of the deicing skins in comparison to existing deicing technologies (e.g. a comparison of cost, weight and current density requirements). The University of Bath provide skills and characterisation facilities to understand the links between measured electrical properties and the dispersion of the graphene composites.

In addition to a smart skin, there are also other benefits and business opportunities from understanding the electrical properties of graphene based composites. An understanding of the dispersion of nanoscale carbons and its impact on electrical properties is crucial for emerging markets in conductive inks (1.5 billion USD market in 2014), printed electronics, RFID applications, smart packaging. Similar issues arise in energy storage applications such as supercapacitors where the material is attempting to compete against activated carbons. Energy storage and composites ('composites' are the focus in this project) are expected to grow ; see Figs.1-2 in Appendix A. It is of interest to note a recent report highlights that in "the long run, if the multifunctional capabilities of the material - including modulus, electrical and thermal conductivity, transparency, impermeability, and elasticity - can be combined in an economic and scalable manner, it could serve as an enabling platform for novel uses" and this is oneapproach of this project. It has long been recognised (Airbus - Hi per Nano, March 2014) that a primary barrier to the commercial exploitation of nano-enhanced materials is the ability to deliver consistent nano-enhanced materia


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Description Understanding of the deposition of graphene inks on carbon fibre composites and their use for deicing applications by electrically heating the graphene.
Exploitation Route Potential use as a deicing technology for aerospace structures, drones and radomes, electrical equipment.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics,Transport

Description Haydale continue to explore deicing applications, where this project was their first data on the use for graphene to provide Joule heating for de-icing. Discussions with company producing graphene composites on use of impedance spectroscopy to determine mixing conditions to enhance production efficiency and level of mixing. This understanding has also led to new academic collaborations for academic researchers working of piezoresistive composites for strain sensors (with Warwick University)
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Electronics,Energy
Impact Types Economic

Description Collaboration with Haydale Ltd 
Organisation Haydale
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Expertise in materials for heating and sensing. Electrical characterisation of graphene inks. Provision of carbon fibre laminates as substrates.
Collaborator Contribution Haydale Ltd provide graphene materials and ink and also undertake screen printing and testing of the device structures.
Impact Disciplines include materials, processing, inks, smart structures. SPIE publication for NDE Smart Materials and Structures 2017.
Start Year 2016