Keeping dust from reaching the internal workings of any engine is critical. Whether a business operates an Airbus or a regional aircraft fleet, one thing they all have in common is recurring air filter maintenance. The AEROGrAFT Spearhead Project, announced by the Graphene Flagship, is set to produce heatable aero-graphene foams, to reduce the cleaning time of aero-material filters in the aerospace industry, saving businesses huge sums of maintenance costs and downtime.
Developed in collaboration with Naturality Research & Development, Spain and Lufthansa Technik, Phi-Stone, and Sixonia Tech in Germany, the AEROGrAFT Spearhead Project is on a mission to develop prototype self-cleaning air filters that use aero-graphene foam.
Developed with graphene's homogenous heat distribution properties in mind, the graphene-enabled foam will ensure even heat throughout the air filter, to elicit a consistent cleaning across all air filter surfaces. What's more, the self-cleaning air filters can use the same graphene foam repeatedly, for recurrent cleaning cycles, without losing stability.
The foam's volume manufacturability will be improved over the project duration, with the end goal of producing foams to volumes of over 200cm3.
Halfway through the Spearhead, the project leaders expect the aero-foam to remain stable for over 50 cycles. Three years into the project, they expect the aero-foam to remain stable for over 100 cycles, meaning aircraft operators can use the self-cleaning properties of the air filter over longer periods of time.
Not only will the self-cleaning filter mean less servicing, but also quicker cleaning. The team believes it will have developed a prototype filter that will take less than 30 minutes to clean within 18-months. By the end of the project in 2023, this will be below the ten-minute mark.
The team will test the prototype aero-material filter systems against aircraft certification requirements, to ensure compliance and eventual certification. Beyond the Spearhead Project, the self-cleaning air filters, once certified, will be ready for the next stages of commercial application, to save the aerospace sector the associated maintenance costs.