Graphene in Aerospace

There is demand for strong but light materials in applications in the aerospace industry. Carbon fibre composites are increasingly being used in the construction of aircraft because they can significantly reduce weight, save fuel and reduce emissions.

The application of graphene does not seek to replace carbon fibre, but instead it offers significant improvements to other desirable mechanical properties such as impact toughness.

In aerospace, functionalised graphene is creating material change by:

  • Reducing weight and increasing the performance of composite materials.
  • Improving electrical conductivity of carbon composites enabling lightning strike resistance.
  • Improving thermal conductivity enabling improved thermal management and heat dissipation.

Lightning Strike Protection

The demand for multi-functionality puts graphene at the forefront of providing better heat dissipating qualities than current lightning strike protection materials.

Aerospace companies currently mould in a copper mesh on the surface of the carbon fibre composite structures in order to dissipate the energy from the lightning strike and prevent damage. The addition of copper mesh adds weight, is expensive and difficult to laminate into the structure.

By adding an electrically conductive graphene into the resin component of carbon fibre, Haydale have increased through-thickness electrical conductivity by 600%. The electrical conductivity of the epoxy resin allows the laminate to dissipate the energy of the lightning strike throughout the structure.

Along with industrial giants Airbus, GKN, and BAE Systems, Haydale has developed an electrically conductive carbon fibre prepreg for Aerospace applications, drones and marine structures making them more resistant to lightning strikes.