Aeronautics and Space

Graphene and related materials show great promise for aeronautics and space applications, and are already being tested thanks to the innovative research carried out by Graphene Flagship partners. Our most recent results clearly suggest that graphene will be a true revolution in these fields.

Aeronautics

Leading Graphene Flagship partners such as Airbus, Lufthansa Technik and Leonardo have demonstrated the possibilities of graphene and related materials in aeronautics. Graphene improves the mechanical properties of plane parts, enabling their construction to be thinner and lighter, while maintaining or improving functionality. This results in significant fuel savings, reducing costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Graphene will also lead manufacturers towards producing safer aircrafts – one of the newest Spearhead projects funded by the Graphene Flagship, GICE, will develop graphene-based thermoelectric ice protection systems. These new devices will keep aircraft parts ice free without affecting aerodynamic properties, leading to safer and more environmentally friendly flights.

 

 

Space

Graphene's properties make the material ideal for a myriad of applications in human space exploration. This is one of the reasons behind our joint ESA – Graphene Flagship workshop, which has been organised during Graphene Week for two consecutive years so far. From lighter parts for our spacecrafts, to new biomaterials for better wound healing in outer space, the possibilities of graphene are limitless. Some prototypes have already been tested in different zero-gravity parabolic flight campaigns, which have led to the graphene-enabled devices such as loop-heat pipes – fundamental in cooling systems in space – and solar sails – key to spacecraft fuel-free propulsion systems.

After these first zero-G tests, graphene finally made it to space in 2019. To test the possibilities of graphene inks in space, Graphene Flagship partners Université Libre de Bruxelles, University of Pisa and the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with ESA launched a rocket into low-orbit space from the Swedish Space Corporation base in Kiruna, Sweden. The MASER 14 rocket allowed more than six minutes of microgravity, giving researchers a long timeframe to validate the interesting properties of graphene inks. Graphene inks could be key for long term space exploration, as they would allow to print electronic and power devices on demand.

 


Our Champions

Our Graphene Flagship Aeronautics and Space Champions were recently appointed by the Management Panel to drive innovation in these fields and coordinate the projects and missions that will bring graphene to the forefront of aerospace technologies. 

Our Champions are available to answer media or business development inquiries related to aeronautics and space technologies and innovations.


Dr Carlo S. Iorio

Graphene Flagship Space Champion
Senior Researcher, Université Libre de Bruxelles

Dr Elmar Bonaccurso

Graphene Flagship Aeronautics Champion
Senior Scientist, Airbus



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Publishing date: 21 January 2020 16:03