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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/S016996/1
Title Investigation of fine-scale flows in composites processing
Status Completed
Energy Categories Energy Efficiency(Transport) 50%;
Not Energy Related 50%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Metallurgy and Materials) 50%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering) 50%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Dr T Rendall
No email address given
Aerospace Engineering
University of Bristol
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 April 2019
End Date 31 March 2023
Duration 48 months
Total Grant Value £938,436
Industrial Sectors Aerospace; Defence and Marine; Manufacturing; Transport Systems and Vehicles
Region South West
Programme Manufacturing : Manufacturing, NC : Engineering
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr T Rendall , Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol (99.996%)
  Other Investigator Dr K Potter , Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol (0.001%)
Dr R Theunissen , Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol (0.001%)
Dr J Kratz , Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol (0.001%)
Dr AD Calway , Computer Science, University of Bristol (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , BAE Systems Integrated System Technologies Limited (0.000%)
Project Contact , National Composites Centre (0.000%)
Project Contact , Dantec Dynamics Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , SHD Composites (0.000%)
Project Contact , Rolls-Royce PLC (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract Anticipated growth in global air passengers by 90% over the next 20 years presents both challenges and opportunities. High fuel costs and environmental pressures mean there has been a real focus on operating economics and this has led to an unprecedented growth in composite materials, which offer a lightweight alternative. Successful production of carbon composites brings its own challenges however, in that it requires the use of autoclaves to minimise gaps (void defects) in the polymer resin material that encapsulates the fibres. This makes the process costly, energy-hungry and slow.Lower capital and operating costs, flexible processing infrastructure, a broader supply chain and a greener manufacturing process represent the big gains that could be made through development of effective out-of-autoclave (OOA) manufacturing processes. Indeed, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult has recently identified OOA manufacturing solutions as a key area for economic growth to ensure a UK presence in next-generation aircraft wings, aero propulsion technologies, and structural light-weighting technologies necessary to help the government achieve carbon-reduction and emissions targets.This project will develop experimental techniques and numerical tools to simulate void processes, in order to produce improved material designs for composite manufacture in out-of-autoclave conditions. The processes we intend to analyse use semi-impregnated carbon fibre reinforcement, where the polymer is applied in such a way that dry and saturated regions are present at the start of processing. Two processes will be studied: (i) vacuum bag processing, where consolidation is by atmospheric pressure (low pressure slowly evacuates entrapped gasses, suitable for larger parts such as wing skins), and (ii) using a mechanical press (high pressure fast process collapses voids, suitable for smaller parts such as automotive structures). The advantage of a semi-impregnated material format is that toughened polymers with higher process viscosity can be used, and once the modelling approach is established, it can be extended to resin infusion processes with minor modifications to the model geometry and boundary conditions.The first stage of this project is to address a fundamental need to be able to understand and model the processes that form and remove voids, so that these processes may be designed quickly in a cost-effective manner in a virtual environment. Once this jump in understanding is made and suitable tools created, the second stage is to create tailored materials to minimise formation of void defects for either the vacuum or press-based routes using manual and automatic optimisation. With the UK currently boasting a 2.3bn composite market, and looking to grow this to 12bn by 2030, the findings of this research will contribute to a vitally important and growing sector of the UK economy.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 15/08/19