Skip to main content

Innovative Material Synergies & Composite Processing Strategies

Final Report Summary - IMS&CPS (Innovative Material Synergies & Composite Processing Strategies)

Executive Summary:
“ 998 million passengers have travelled by plane in 2010, against 262 millions in 1989. 9.5 millions of flights took place the same year in Europe only. According to Eurocontrol, airfreight in Europe was estimated to be in 2008 of 8.3 million flights transporting an average of 124 seats, average travel distance being 900 km in 80 minutes for a consumption of 3.1 tons of kerosene. By this way, 25 million tons of kerosene were consumed in 2008 for intra-European flights. Considering 3.15 kg of CO2 per kg of kerosene produced, the impact on air pollution due to European flights is estimated at 80 Mt CO2.
More strategically, USA and Asia-Pacific government positioned investigations on “nano” materials as one of their priorities in their research programs. Although many efforts were made at the European level to enhance competitiveness and niche research, major industrial development performed so far did not allow the expected breakthroughs, at least not on such accurate domains as aeronautics are.

The IMS&CPS project has intended to provide an effective answer to the issue of global energy/fuel consumption, by proposing technologies to decrease air plane total weight and thus fuel consumption. To address this challenge, the project ambition was first to take advantage of the Same-Qualified-Resin-Transfer-Molding (SQRTM) process in order to produce a one-shot complex structure. Indeed the use of SQRTM process can allow suppressing a number of metallic items – which contribute to airplane total weight – thanks to highly integrated parts. Then innovative preimpregnated fabrics and advanced fabric preforms were investigated and incorporated into the demonstrator towards the improvement of electrical conductivity (i.e. use of carbon nanotubes based materials).

The activities conducted in IMS&CPS, by inserting carbon nanotubes based materials in demonstrators, was also to link laboratory research and industry. Selection of technologies was drastically led and took into account feasibility of a larger scale manufacturing, to appeal industrials and make them consider concretely the use of these materials. Steps to follow to a possible qualification of these materials were considered as well. The development followed a classical step-by-step approach, from coupon to sub-element and then to full scale demonstrator. The duration of the project was 36 months. At the end of the project, partners gathered expertise gained through the development – as proof of concept – of 2 typical aircraft parts : a part of fuselage and a re-engineered Nose Landing Gear door (2mx1mx0.3m).

A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) has revealed that the solutions developed in the frame of IMS&CPS will enable the decrease of environmental footprint of parts chosen as demonstrators. Environmental and security aspects linked to the presence of CNT have been taken into account in this LCA approach. Besides an economical study confirmed that these highly integrated structures reduce manufacturing costs. It is believed that they will enable to keep production in Europe. To correlate societal implications to a more scientific field, IMS&CPS studied different ways of integrating carbon nanotubes into composite materials for both railway and aeronautic purpose. Thanks to the work performed and wide dissemination already done and foreseen, partners allow scientific and industrial community to have access to a complete mechanical, electrical and fire properties database. This was one of project’s target and is a major advancement as future researchers will save time as they will have at disposition tools to go a step further than the project. On that first basis, IMS&CPS developments will largely serve community in the future.

The spread of use of SQRTM associated with innovative processes and their combination with advanced preforms results in time saving and part weight saving, which lead to lower fuel consumption due to diminution of aircraft parts weight and reduction of industrial production steps (less energy required as less parts produced separately). There is a large aerospace market for the production of highly integrated structures. It is known that such integration can be used to lower production cost or to lower component weight. Often a mix of both, cost reduction and weight savings, are achievable. Typical applications are doors, flaps, spoilers, ailerons, slats, etc.

Economical impacts on society will thus be the development of new industries, producing these advanced performs : employments will be created. Regarding the diminution of production costs and costs of use of aircraft vehicles, anyone will benefit of the limitations of the costs that airline companies will operate. We can highlight that lower carbon emission targeted are reached for products developed in the frame of the project is in line with European policy objectives. The IMS&CPS project will support the development of a strong European expertise in both innovative materials development and composites materials process which propels European citizens at the edge of innovation and expertise in these fields : this will guarantee to maintain high added value parts manufactured in Europe, ensuring an effective competitiveness. “

Project Context and Objectives:
IMS&CPS Project, which full title is “Innovative Material Synergies and Composite Processing Strategies”, is a NMP FP7 Large-scale integrating project of 36 months, which began on October 2010, the 1st and ended on September 2013, the 30th.
IMS&CPS consortium was composed of 16 partners, which are located in 7 different European countries.
IMS&CPS project was built up as mutation of transport industry to carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRC) is ineluctable in order to reduce our mobility environmental imprint. Once they launched IMS&CPS, its consortium identified that this sector was at a turn of its conversion from metal to composite, which imposed a radical rethinking of the whole supply chain. IMS&CPS proposed solutions to face that fact, combining development of materials and matched processes. Partners believed that only such a concerted effort could favor best synergies in the final part within a cost-effective process. Works have then been focused on the:
• improvement of mechanical, electrical (for Lightning Strike Protection) and fire properties
• development of cost-effective manufacturing processes.
To succeed, different topics of investigation were identified to investigate the different kind of innovative materials applicable to the needs of the addressed concern; with a strict selection accordingly to part specifications in which they were meant to be inserted, as well as industrial applicability of their processes. Different kind of processes have been used to manufacture testing coupons in IMS&CPS project: SQRTM, RTM, VARI, ARTM,… These techniques are complementary as they allow to process (thus test) innovative materials under different forms: resins, tapes, prepregs, yarns … In parallel, advanced preforms were developed in order to speed up manufacturing of complex parts designed for transport applications, which is the final target of the project.
IMS&CPS outputs have been gathered in 2 demonstrators, which are a 1m² curved -stiffened panel (part of a fuselage) and a 2m² Landing Gear Door which comprises several stiffeners and a double curvature. These demonstrators feature innovative materials developed in the project: each used a different technique to insert CNTs (resin and prepregs) and advanced preforms stitched with pure CNT yarns; they are a world première as no demonstrator has ever been made with CNTs based materials.

At last, but not least, railway applications have been studied through the elaboration of a numerical side wall panel (part of a wagon). Railway industry has currently initiated a re-thinking of its strategy, terms of materials qualification.

WP1: Development of Ternary systems (RD; M1 to M36)
The objective of WP1 was to properly select the constituents of the organic matrix of the composites and to optimize processing conditions. Strategies aiming at combining these different constituents had also to be established. A controlled delivery and dispersion of CNT into the final matrix was expected in order to reach targeted electrical and mechanical properties of the material.
A thermoset resin (RTM6), a thermoplastic (PES) and several types of CNT were chosen. A curing cycle which meets EADS requirement have also been established. PES/CNT-based blends were prepared and their dissolution in TS resin monitored. The morphology, the mechanical and electrical properties of the final matrix were studied and were found satisfying. Specifications and recommendations were then provided to WP2.

WP2: Material Innovation (RD; M1 to M36)
Lab scale pure CNTs fibres were produced by Cambridge. INSA Lyon spent time to understand the fiber process parameters related to properties and studied the fiber/matrix interfacial adhesion with the use of single fiber fragmentation test for CNT fibers and different carbon fibers.
ENSAIT are involved in the 1D orientation of the CNTs in PES by developing PES/CNT fibres using an extrusion-melt spinning process.
Continuous TP/CNTs tape extrusion was utilized by QMUL for production of interleaves for FRCs.
Airbrushing technique also been explored and proven to be an effective route of delivering CNTs directly onto fibre preforms with localization and spatial control. On the opposite, in situ growth of CNTs onto the retained carbon fibre shows none homogeneous growth.
Functionalized CNTs were produced and evaluated on mechanical and electrical performances.

WP3: Advanced Engineering and Modeling Tools (RD; M1 to M36)
The objective of WP3 was to develop modeling methodologies and predictive tools that would help to understand the benefit of CNTs in carbon fiber/epoxy composite for such properties as electrical conductivity, lightning impact performance and damage resistance. In the framework of the IMS&CPS project, several novel models were developed. These multi-scale models are able to predict the electrical conductivity and the stress distribution at the nano-scale accounting for the CNT’s distribution in a polymer matrix, at the micro-scale in the presence of carbon fibers and at the meso-scale taking into account the textile architecture of the composites. Additionally, the work performed included modelling of lightning impact in real CNT’s doped composite panels. Macro scales models were performed to predict the behaviour of SLCA & Alstom demonstrators with and without CNT. The aim was to predict the mechanical behaviour of the parts and help to iterate on the design of the demonstrators.
The development of these advanced modelling tools is expected to have an impact on the development of new materials and architectures in a faster and cheaper way by reducing the use of cost campaigns by trial and error. In this sense, the performed work is an important contribution to the development of high fidelity simulation tools or virtual testing approaches.

WP4: From innovative WP2 materials to multiscale composites (coupon level) (RD; M4 to M36)
The different CNT-TP/TS and neat CNT yarns have been woven by ENSAIT. Stitching and tufting was not possible according to the yarns brittleness and high surface friction. Other routes to integrate CNTs into the fiber structures have been successfully applied : CNT tapes, CNT doped resins, and modified prepregs. Different laminate configurations containing CNTs were manufactured by RTM, ARTM, SQRTM, and the Quickstep curing process. Airbrushing technique for direct delivery of CNTs onto fiber preforms providing great potential on integrating CNTs into FRCs. All laminates were sampled and tested (mechanical and physical properties). Experimental techniques, like characterization of the damage process in FRPC laminates or analysis of CNT filtering through-the-thickness, could be developed. The electrical conductivities in volume could not reach the requirements of LSP tests and the improvements of mechanical properties were small.

WP5: Validation elements (RD; M1 to M32)
Validation of processes and cure cycle was done by Quickstep for Quickstep process via two types of validation elements and test results suggest that CNT’s has positive influence on the structural bonding. One of the validation element, an omega-stiffened curved panel was also manufactured by EADSF and its electrical conductivity was measured.
A continuous profile preforming system (CPPS) was developed by IVW. Cost-efficient and automated preforming of T- and I-profiles can be completed with production speeds up to 4 m/min. One I-profile preform was produced including neat CNT yarns.
I beams were manufactured by Coexpair with RTM and SQRTM processes. Some of them were produced with advanced preforms provided by IVW and ENSAIT. The I beams were sent to VZLU for C-scan and testing.

WP6: Demonstrator (DEM; M1 to M36)
One of IMS&CPS added value was the proposition of developing demonstrators representative of aircraft and railway components. These demonstrators intended to bring to concrete applications materials developed in the frame of IMS&CPS these latters being closer to lab scale development than industrial scale. Thanks to demonstrators, for the first time CNTs based materials are embarked and assessed for aircraft parts manufacturing on one hand and assessed for railway side wall panels.

WP7: Coordination and Management (MGT; M1 to M38)
Coordination manager has been keen on easy administrative, legal and financial tasks to consortium ; she provided a strong and effective support any time it has been needed. She cared that all these imperatives were well understood and respected by all entities. At last, she is been keen on creating a strong team spirit so as to create an effective cooperation in between partners.

WP8: Scientific Coordination (RD; M1 to M36)
Scientific manager and tasks leaders have cared all along the project that its target would be reached within the delays and provided with a work of constant quality. To do so, close contacts with partners have been ensured during 3 years and tools to monitor follow up were set up. The demonstrators developed are the illustration of successful coordination.

WP9: Transversal activities (RD; M1 to M37)
Environmental impact addressed by IMS&CPS project has two aspects : aircraft parts weight saving is a finality but before that, it was necessary to integrate both materials and processes components at the early beginning of the chain in order to ensure that global environmental foot print was lowered compared to existing solutions. Besides, development would not have been completely fulfilled without financial aspects consideration in the forecast of an up-scaling of both material use and processes. It was necessary to evaluate and forecast a first cost estimation in order to assess realism of proposed solutions for targeted applications. At last, identifying steps to follow in case of a validation of materials developed in the project towards a certification was necessary to complete the project and close the loop of all aspects that the research IMS&CPS projects proposed to conduct.

WP10: Exploitation and dissemination activities (OTHER; M1 to M36)
Convinced of the strong added value of IMS&CPS innovations, its consortium was keen on sharing its experience and actively disseminated through conferences attendance or paper publications. Moreover, it has been pushed forward to consider the use of project results so as to offer the possibility to innovations reached in the frame of IMS&CPS to have echoes and applications in the upcoming years.

Project Results:
See enclosed annex.

Potential Impact:
See enclosed annex.

List of Websites:

http://cordis.europa.eu/result/report/rcn/53118_en.html