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High Temperature Characterization and Modelling of Thermoplastic Composites

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HITCOMP (High Temperature Characterization and Modelling of Thermoplastic Composites)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2020-09-30

The issue being addressed in this half project report is the test campaigns and specimens manufacturing of a new composite material with thermoplastic matrix for application in the aeronautic industry and the development and validation of a mathematical model capable to simulate fire test effects on the thermoplastic composite panels.

The addressed issues have a significant importance for the society because of the characterization regarding fire resistance of a new material for applications in aircraft. The new material can improve the performance of the actually used materials and can help to manufacture improved aircraft structures. The lighter A/C reached thanks to the materials characterized in this project will contribute to the environmental objectives of Clean Sky, reducing environmental pollution and thus improving the quality of life. HITCOMP project will save weight and decrease the drag of the aircraft, both close related to fuel consumption. HITCOMP will contribute to an important weight reduction thanks to the use thermoplastic composite materials with respect to the current metallic solution used on the aircrafts, which will therefore save fuel along the aircraft service life.

The overall objectives can be resumed as follows:

The research project HITCOMP aims to develop a complete thermomechanical model (TMM) to be run in standard computers and with common SW tools, in order to accomplish “virtual” tests of thermoplastic composite materials of aeronautical interest submitted to mechanical load and fire or high temperature events. The model will permit to compare its outputs with direct test results in order to evaluate the comparative performance of thermoplastic composites, allowing cost reduction and agility in current and future developments of new composite materials and structures resistant to fire and high temperature events. To achieve this, a first step is to characterize the behaviour, under fire and thermal affection, of a new high performance thermoplastic composites based on PAEK family resins, for comparison to the current thermoset, epoxy based, composites already tested before from members of the project.
The specifications of the materials for the fire tests have been developed by UC3M-LIR using virtual tests (FEM) and the previous experience. Some properties and parameters have been selected according to the TM requirements and the experience of UC3M-LIR.

Following tasks have been carried out during this reporting period:

WP1 - Design, development and installation of an innovative ground test environment

SENSIA developed a solution based on infrared thermal imaging technology for monitoring the thermal map of the specimens under thermal/fire test. This solution can get synchronized and spatially correlated measurement of the temperature map of both faces of the specimen under test, following the advising of LIR-UC3M. UC3M has offered support to SENSIA, detailing the procedure to follow and type of tests in order to design an infrared system capable of satisfying the needs of the project.

Specifically, SENSIA has verified, in FAT test in its facilities, the following points: Correct works of software, the stability and accuracy, the range of temperatures and the stability of the infrared cameras system.

LIR-UC3M has attended the FAT test, together with Airbus experts. Some of these points will be verified again during the SAT campaign at the Airbus Fire Lab.

WP2 - Test Campaigns and Specimens manufacturing

The objective of this work package is to provide the selected material panels for tests and the performance of the mechanical tests. Over all the work package is being complied at good rate. The encountered difficulties on processing of the material have been solved and the first set of fire test panels have been provided. Almost all the required panels for the mechanical tests have been manufactured and coupons have been machined with the required tolerances specified in the testing standard. The test campaign has started and is progressing well.

WP3 - Analysis and correlation

The objective of this work package is to develop and validate a mathematical model capable to simulate fire test effects on the thermoplastic composite panels.

UC3M Has obtained the thermal parameters of the material for low temperatures. With these parameters, the thermal model capable of reproducing the effects of the fire tests has been developed. The characterization of the material at high temperatures is currently being completed, which will allow the completion of the designed model. 3 fire tests have been carried out at Airbus in order to obtain results and analyse the behaviour of the material under a load test. Several tests have also been carried out at the university (flash and step) to obtain the thermal parameters.

By INTA the work has progressed significantly with a structured overview of different modelling tasks. Also initial sub-models have been prepared which has proven quite useful to identify key effects and parameters. These sub-models will provide the knowledge required to complete the simulation of a full fire test panel. Initial correlation activities with available test results are been performed both at RT and 300ºC. A revision of modelling requirements both thermal and mechanical has been carried out by INTA. This includes a bibliographic search of previous modelling efforts on the topic. On the mechanical modelling INTA has selected a FEM SW for the simulation tasks and has prepared models to simulate mechanical tests. These model will be used for detailed material constitutive model selection. Tests simulation models have been developed with increasing complexity from 2D, trough axisymmetric geometry to full 3D models with orthotropic plasticity and thermal variation of properties.
In HITCOMP project, an innovative methodology allowing an affordable characterization of high efficient composite materials and the prediction of their behaviour when submitted to fire and high temperature events is in development. Thus, HITCOMP will enable a further step in satisfying the increasing demand of lighter airframes in a context of more electrical aircrafts, with a larger number of potential heat sources of all classes, so increasing the thermal hazards due to overheating and eventually fire.
HITCOMP will contribute to the huge effort required to maintain global leadership for aviation in Europe and meeting the needs of its citizens, a sector being a key component of the existing European Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment.
The expected results until the end of the project are the installation of the HITCOMP testing lab facility inside AIRBUS fire testing lab that will enable the monitoring of the materials behaviour when exposed to thermal events to test its suitability for its use under typical high temperature events affecting aircraft structures. To achieve this a huge test campaign of over 300 individual test coupons will be tested in a wide temperature range and with conditioned and thermally cycled specimens.
Fire test
IR system
Preparation for the curing process of paneles in the INTA autoclave
Fire test 2
Testing device for the tests between RT and 350ºC
Paneles manufactured in autoclave process
DMA tests to characterize the thermal behaviour above Tg
Test specimens for AITM1-0009 Bearing at temperature tests