Haydale (AIM: HAYD), the group focused on the commercialisation of graphene and other nano particle products using their proprietary plasma process is pleased to announce its composites division, Haydale Composite Solutions Ltd (“HCS”), has entered into a collaborative 18 month research project awarded and managed by the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (“NATEP”). The project involves two end users; Airbus UK and BAE Systems Plc. Collaborating in the project are Cobham Plc (lightning strike advice and testing), SHD Composites Ltd (carbon fibre reinforced epoxy resin pre-impregnated fabric supplier) and HCS (supplier of functionalised graphene enhanced epoxy resins). NATEP are providing a grant of up to £150,000 towards the £300,000 cost of the research project, of which HCS will receive up to £100,000.
Carbon fibre composites are used extensively in aircraft applications such as fuselages, leading edges and wing surfaces. However, because the carbon fibre reinforced epoxy composite materials are poor conductors of electricity they are prone to damage from lightning strike. This has led to aircraft companies incorporating copper or aluminium meshes into the composite materials which add significant weight and cost.
The electrical conductivity of graphene enhanced composites has already been established. The aim of this project is therefore to develop highly electrically conductive epoxy resins through the addition of functionalised graphene which, when combined with conductive carbon fibre, is expected to result in a highly conductive carbon fibre reinforced epoxy composite material capable of withstanding lightning strike in its own right. The development of such a material would result in safer aircraft, weight and cost savings from the elimination of the expensive metallic meshes as well as eliminating time associated with integrating the meshes into the structure.