EU-funded Eco-Compass project, for the period April 2016 to March 2019 with a contribution of Euro 1.8 million has put together researchers from China and the aviation industry to collaborate in developing eco-friendly bio-based materials for aircraft that may replace traditional high-carbon footprint, non-recyclable materials in planes.
Modern aircraft are man-made from synthetic, non-renewable materials that are composites such as carbon and glass-fiber-reinforced plastics.
The project team under the EU-funded Eco-Compass project, dedicated to looking for alternative materials to create fiber reinforcements in planes, have found that bio-based fibers from plants and recycled carbon fibers have great potential. The team has developed a bio-based resin system for a range of aircraft applications.
Jens Bachmann of the German Aerospace Center (DLR, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt), the Project Coordinator, said, “The bio-materials, recycled carbon fibers and bio-resins should be suitable for use in the secondary structure and interior of aircraft. They typically require less energy to produce than the materials used at present.”
Bachmann, further commented, “The aviation industry continues to grow worldwide – global partnerships help us share knowledge and make rapid improvements to technologies. This collaboration has helped us learn more about fibers grown in China, such as ramie, that could be a good alternative to flax which is a standard fiber grown and used in Europe. Now, we are improving their properties by combining Chinese expertise in materials development with European expertise in modelling and simulation.”
The composite materials identified and developed during this project are expected to be used in the form of interior paneling, gear doors, winglets and other secondary structures of the planes. Bio-based composites made from flax and ramie plant fibers have the potential for use in natural-fiber-reinforced plastics for aviation.