EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P027393/1
Title: High Performance Discontinuous Fibre Composites - a sustainable route to the next generation of composites
Principal Investigator: Hamerton, Professor I
Other Investigators:
Rendall, Dr T Ward, Dr C Potter, Professor K
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr ML Longana
Project Partners:
Airbus Operations Limited BAE Systems Coriolis Composites UK
ELG Carbon Fibre Ltd. Hexcel Composites Ltd Hitachi Ltd
National Composites Centre Oxford Advanced Surfaces Solvay Group (UK)
Department: Aerospace Engineering
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 03 December 2017 Ends: 02 June 2021 Value (£): 1,036,426
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufact. Enterprise Ops& Mgmt
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Mar 2017 EPSRC Manufacturing Prioritisation Panel March 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Continuous carbon fibre composites are capable of competing directly with advanced metals in terms of structural performance. The advantages of composites come from the ability to manufacture complex shapes, generally in relatively low volume production, in weight saving and corrosion resistance. However, continuous fibre composites are difficulties to manufacture, leading to both high costs and to the potential for generation of a range of defects impacting strongly on performance. In addition, continuous fibre composites cannot be directly recycled as there is no way of reusing the fibres that can be extracted in long, but not continuous and topologically ordered form. From an examination of the current status of the composites industry two big challenges can be identified. The first is to increase defect-free production volumes by at least an order of magnitude - leading directly to the need to simplify and automate the manufacturing processes [12]. The second is the requirement to generate more sustainable composites solutions by moving towards a circular economy based model [13] via the development of recycling processes able to retain the material's mechanical properties and economic value. In principle, there is nothing new in this analysis of the challenges, however, a great deal of research activity has been expended in these areas in the last two decades without achieving a step-change in capability. The central thesis of this proposal is that the principal difficulties in both achieving low cost, reliable, high volume production and readily recyclable advanced composites arise from a single source: the fact that the fibres are continuous and that both problem areas can be directly tackled by adopting highly Aligned Discontinuous Fibre Reinforced Composites (ADFRCs).

Our vision is to generate a fundamental step-change in the composite industry by further developing and applying the HiPerDiF (High Performance Discontinuous Fibre) technology to produce high performance ADFRCs. This new, high volume manufacturing method was invented at the University of Bristol in the EPSRC funded HiPerDuCT (High Performance Ductile Composite Technology) programme (EP/I02946X/1). The basic concept is that if discontinuous fibres are accurately aligned and their length is significantly longer than the critical fibre length, the tensile modulus, strength and failure strain of the obtained composites are comparable to those of continuous fibre composites. This technique, developed in the HiPerDuCT programme has also shown the potential to tailor mechanical behaviour of composite materials, delivering pseudo-ductility via hybridisation and fibre pull-out mechanisms. The HiPerDiF technology offers the opportunity to realise the potential of aligned discontinuous fibre composites and produce a significant industrial and societal impact.

Changing the fibre reinforcement geometry from continuous to discontinuous, without compromising the mechanical properties, will have a wide impact on the composite industry. The fibre discontinuity will allow an increase in the productivity of automated manufacturing processes and the formability of complex geometries, reducing the manufacturing generated defects. The use of ADFRC will increase the tailorability of composite materials by leading to truly multifunctional composite materials, able to respond to multiple design requirements. ADFRC will open the way for the adoption of a circular economy model in the composite sector by allowing the remanufacturing of reclaimed carbon fibres in high performance and high value feedstock and by producing more readily recyclable materials.

Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk