A Global Research Institute of Queen's University Belfast

Advanced Composites Research Group

Advanced Computational Modelling

Leading the development of state-of-the-art modelling capability, enabling manufacturers of advanced composite structures to reduce the extent of physical testing through virtual testing and design.

Research projects focussing on the prediction of (i) damage in composite structures, when subjected to impact loading, and the associated residual strength when these structures are placed under compressive loading; (ii) the energy absorbing capacity of composites structures during a crash event to assess a composite structure’s crashworthiness.

Nano-enhanced Multifunctional Composites

A major EPSRC funded research programme to explore the use of different carbon nanotube (CNT) assemblies, integrated within a composite aerostructure, for multifunctional applications.

This project exploits the use of high-specification CNTs, produced within the Advanced Composites Research Group’s laboratory and exploited in different forms to provide (i) improve fracture toughness; (ii) lightning strike protection; (iii) integrated anti-icing/de-icing capability; and (iv) in-situ structural health monitoring.

Material Characterisation

At the heart of every numerical model is the requirement of appropriate material data. Research is underway to develop reliable material characterisation tests at quasi-static and high strain rates.

The acquisition of intralaminar fracture toughness remains a considerable challenge owing to the emergence of new composite material systems with tougher, stronger or stiffer constituents. Research is underway to explore novel approaches towards the development of fracture toughness tests with wide applicability.

Structural Applications

The Advanced Composites Research Group is developing a number of technologies in close collaboration with industrial partners to address their needs.

Both low and high TRL research activities are conducted. High TRL projects include a research project with Bombardier & Wrightbus to explore the development of cost-effective composite repair methodologies. Another project with Denroy Plastics is exploring the interfacial bonding of thermoplastic laminates overmoulded with injected thermoplastic.

Current Projects

CRASHWORTHINESS

ICONIC: Improving the crashworthiness of composite transportation structures

ICONIC is an EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network which bring together 15 Early Stage Researchers in an integrated, multidisciplinary and highly innovative €4M research and skills development programme, to develop a new generation of lightweight composite transportation structures with superior crashworthiness.

ICONIC Website

NANO-ENHANCED COMPOSITES

MACANTA: Multifunctional hierarchical advanced composite aerostructures utilising the combined properties of different carbon nanotube assemblies

MACANTA brings together a research team with highly complementary expertise to increase the fundamental understanding of the influence of physical & chemical characteristics of different carbon nanotube assemblies in pursuit of developing multifunctional composites which mitigate the known shortcomings as well as providing additional functionality.

MACANTA Website

NANO-ENHANCED COMPOSITES

MAGNUS: Multifunctional composite aerostructures utilising carbon nanotube webs

MAGNUS is an FP7 research programme focussing on the use of highly-aligned carbon nanotube webs in the development of energy efficient electrothermal anti-icing/de-icing systems for composite aerostructures.

THERMOPLASTICS

COMINO: Composite injection overmoulding

COMINO is an industry-led research project, with industry partners Rockwell Collins, Thales, datum, Denroy and CCP Gransden, and conducted at NIACE. The project focusses on the investigation of the suitability of injection overmoulding of composite laminates for the fabrication of aircraft components.

COMPOSITE REPAIRS

Composite inspection and repair

This is a research project with industry partners Bombardier, Wrightbus, CCP Gransden and datum. The objectives are (i) to develop inspection protocols for identifying damage or compromising features which are difficult to detect; (ii) develop computational tools for the optimal design of composite repairs; and (iii) explore various repair schemes.

DAMAGE IN COMPOSITES

Predicting impact damage and compression-after-impact strength in hybrid composite laminates

This project, in partnership with Bombardier, focusses on the development of high-fidelity finite element-based computational models for predicting damage in hybrid composite laminates used in composite aerostructures.

FORMULA 1 COMPOSITE STRUCTURES

Predicting the crashworthiness of Formula 1 composite automotive structures

This project, supported by McLaren F1, is focussed on improving computational tools to predict the energy absorption/crashworthiness of Formula 1 composite structures. This work is motivated by the need to reduce the extent of costly and time-consuming physical testing in the development of new monocoque F1 composite structures.