Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast have developed carbon fiber simulation tools.
Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast have developed carbon fiber simulation tools.

Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast have developed simulation tools which will help to improve the safety of the latest generation of carbon fiber airplanes, formula one racing cars and future lightweight family cars.

During the €4 million European study the researchers will work with Bombardier Aerospace Belfast, McLaren-Honda F1 and Fiat to develop safer and more efficient ways to use lightweight carbon fiber composites in their designs.

According to Professor Brian Falzon, Royal Academy of Engineering Bombardier Chair in Aerospace Composites, the research could allow companies in the aerospace, automotive and rail industries to try new designs virtually, ruling out any safety concerns without having to incur huge costs in physically testing these designs. Through the project, researchers will explore the development of new generations of composite materials, using nanotechnology, which could improve safety even further.

Reducing impact

‘At Queen’s, we are training the next generation of researchers in this area and have developed a cutting-edge computer system which uses virtual testing to predict how carbon fiber composites will react when impacted, when crushed, or when put under extreme loading – allowing for improved crashworthiness design and reducing impact to passengers,’ said Professor Falzon. ‘Using mathematics and computer software, our Advanced Composites Research Group at Queen’s has developed a system which is as close to reality as possible and can pick up problems that may not always be visible, such as internal wing damage on a plane which may occur during operation. By understanding the failure mechanisms of composite materials such as carbon fiber, we are able to better exploit their unique properties and create very lightweight transportation structures. This will minimise environmental impact whilst ensuring utmost safety to passengers.’

This story is reprinted from material from Queen's University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.