Applications

Areas and Markets of Application

The materials and processes to be developed in PolyGraph will offer benefits to a wide range of applications therefore the potential market is very large. Two of the most prominent industrials areas are aerospace and automotive.

Aerospace

Graphene Composites for Aerospace IndustryAn on-going target for the aerospace sector is to reduce weight and thereby save fuel and, ultimately, costs. As a result, technologies which can deliver improved stiffness or toughness are of particular interest. The benefits of stiffness are clearly the ability to improve performance or conversely to maintain performance whilst reducing weight. Toughness can give improved damage or crack resistance.

Further key requirements for aerospace applications are the ability to withstand a large temperature range (typically anywhere from -50°C to +50°C, much higher for many of the components within engine nacelles) and, in some cases, to be electrically conductive.

Graphene-reinforcement thermosetting polymers have the potential to provide these improvements, in applications such as those detailed below:

  • Fibre-reinforced laminates: tough, thermally stable and conductive carbon fibre/graphene-filled resins to reduce the weight of primary aircraft structures
  • Epoxy adhesives: increasing the thermal stability of adhesives would allow them to be used in much more demanding applications, such as those typically encountered by many components surrounding aero-engines
  • Electrically conductive composites and coatings: could potentially allow the replacement of copper mesh currently used for lightning strike protection of composite aircraft structures - thereby significantly reducing weight
  • Electrical packaging: the thermal stability, fire retardancy and EMI shielding properties of graphene-filled thermosets make them an ideal candidate for use in micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), and encapsulation or potting of electronic components.
  • Advanced coatings: tougher coatings have the potential to reduce the number of coats required, whilst coatings with improved surface finish can help to reduce drag (caused by surface roughness either from the coating itself, or from the build-up of dirt)

Automotive

Graphene Composites for Automotive IndustryAs with aerospace, saving weight, and thereby fuel, is a key target in the automotive sector. Specific applications which could benefit from the materials to be developed in PolyGraph include:

  • Fibre-reinforced laminates: as a replacement for conventional materials to reduce weight and improve fuel economy; also for the construction of bipolar plates for use in fuel cells
  • Electrically conductive adhesives: A common method of applying anti-corrosion coatings to automotive body structures is by electrophoretic coating - a process in which an electrical potential is applied to the car body, followed by a coating deposition step. The current disadvantage of this process is that areas of the body around standard adhesive joints receive a non-uniform coating, potentially allowing corrosion to act on the joint/bodywork interface. Conductive graphene-reinforced adhesives would circumvent this problem.
  • Enhanced adhesives: to improve structural safety, with the additional capability of electromagnetic wave activation, reduced curing times and joint reversal for disassembly
  • Electrically conductive coatings: electrostatically spray-able paints (with good mechanical, thermal and barrier properties) would significantly reduce solvent use
  • Electrical packaging: the thermal stability, fire retardancy and EMI shielding properties of graphene-filled thermosets make them an ideal candidate for use in micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), and encapsulation or potting of electronic components.

Exploitation Committee

An Exploitation Committee will be formed whose purpose will be to provide direction and guidance on aspects such as dissemination of project results and plans for the commercial exploitation of foreground developed within the project. The Committee will also liaise with the Industrial Interest Group and the standardisation bodies.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 604143.