CORDIS - EU research results

Nano-Engineered Fiber-Reinforced Polymers

Final Report Summary - NFRP (Nano-Engineered Fiber-Reinforced Polymers)

Fiber-Reinforced Polymers (FRP's), stronger per unit of weight than steel or aluminium, are highly demanded for high-performance applications. The use of FRP's in aerospace structures can lead to a significant reduction of maintenance costs, carbon imprint by fuel consumptions, COx and NOx emissions, etc. This is the reason why the last civil Airbus aircraft contains up to 52% in weight of composite materials and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner claims to be the first aircraft with a fully composite fuselage. However, composite materials present several drawbacks that need to be overcomed to fully take advantage of their excellent mechanical properties. From a mechanical perspective, aerospace composites are made of carbon fiber “plies” which are held together by a polymer. This polymer can crack easily, which results in the delamination of the plies and the failure of the structure if it is not detected on time. It is also required for aerospace materials to be protected from common environmental occurrences, such as lightning strikes, electromagnetic interferences, electrostatic discharge, etc. Various methods are used to address these concerns, such as the use of metallic meshes or foils. However, these meshes/screens are difficult to handle for both production and repairs, and increase significantly the overall weight of the aircraft. NFRP project aims at developing a novel nano-architecture to enhance the mechanical and electrical properties of the composite in the through-the-thickness direction. This nano-architecture will also act as a sensing system, enabling damage detection and localization by resistive-heating based non-destructive evaluation. In summary, the nano-engineered composite proposed here is an intrinsically multifunctional material, with expected over the state-of-the-art mechanical and multifunctional properties.

During the first NFRP project, we have synthesized novel hybrid nanoarchitectures based in micro-diameter particles and carbon nano-structures. We have also used these nanostructures as interleaves in composite materials in order to improve their mechanical properties. Composite fabrication of carbon fiber reinforced polymers and the mechanical and multifunctional evaluation of the composite materials synthesized was carried out in the last part of the project.

The goal of the NFRP project is to develop a novel nano-architecture using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) placed around carbon micro-diameter spheres (CNT/particles) as the main reinforcement of the interlayer region. These CNT/particles will be placed between the carbon fiber/resin plies to enhance the mechanical and electrical properties of the composite in the through-the-thickness direction. These hybrid nanoarchitectures are based on a micro-diameter particle surrounded by carbon nanostructures, such as nanotubes or nanofibers.

The project is already having impact by ongoing collaborations with, the Analytic Chemistry department from University of Alcala, Institute of Polymer Science and Technology (ICTP-CSIC), the Institute of Polymer Composites from Hamburg University of Technology, AITTP technological center, and the Powder technology group from Carlos III University of Madrid, among others.

More information on the NFRP project:


Technical project coordinator: Roberto Guzman de Villoria,
Project Manager: Miguel Angel Rodiel,