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New materials for aerospace, automotive and energy

Composites combine individual materials to achieve unprecedented properties. The Composites Work Package couples graphene and layered materials with plastics, fibres and metals for innovative applications in industrial sectors such as aerospace, automotive and energy. We also develop custom composites for manufacturing, connecting academia and industry.

This year’s progress

Among other applications, our work package used graphene and layered materials to reinforce carbon fibre plastics. This confers additional properties, such as increased stability, making graphene composites ideal for automotive components. Different combinations lead to tuneable functionalities and increased sustainability. Some of our graphene-based composites have found applications as fire retardants; others have increased recyclability, aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the European Green Deal.

The Composites Work Package successfully produced ultraconcentrated masterbatches of thermoplastics with graphene concentrations up to 45%. This led to the creation of innovative automotive components, which enhanced various mechanical properties. We further tested these materials thanks to our collaborations with the Graphene Flagship Spearhead Projects G+BOARD and GICE. In particular, the latter focuses on expanding the possibilities of graphene-enabled composites for the mechanical protection of aircraft. Some of these technologies have attained high technology readiness levels (TRL) between 6 and 7.

Other products and prototypes are also close to market. These include graphene-based composites for injection moulding manufacturing lines with applications in sensing, with a TRL 5, and composites for 3D printing, which showcase ideal properties for flexible and wearable electronic devices at TRL 4. The different advances were only possible thanks to the 15 collaborations established with industrial partners. These symbiotic relationships have advanced methods for processing, production and characterisation of composites based on graphene and layered materials.

Graphene-enabled composites also show great promise for energy generation and distribution. Through different partnerships with other Graphene Flagship researchers, our work package worked on 3D-printed batteries, innovative circuit breakers, energy management systems and applications for electro-magnetic shielding. We contributed to the development of the next generation of lightweight, recyclable graphene-enabled composites. Cost reduction and simple repairs to further enhance sustainability were also investigated.

Upcoming challenges

The close collaboration between partners in our work package, which include academic institutions, SMEs, and large multinational industries, led to a smooth evolution of our activities. The main challenge ahead is meeting the sustainability goals within the SDG and the European Missions in Horizon Europe, to bring innovative solutions to the greatest societal challenges. Our team will address issues around manufacturing, processability and production. We look forward to establishing internal value chains and standardised methods to overcome obstacles.

Work Package Leadership

Leader: Costas Galiotis, FORTH, Greece
Deputy: Ian Kinloch, University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Division Leadership

​Leader: Vittorio Pellegrini, BeDimensional, Italy​
Deputy: Xinliang Feng, TU Dresden, Germany

Latest Articles

Leading edge of an airplane wing. Graphene composites can reduce weight while increasing the strength of automotive and aeronautic components.
Composites / Innovation / Materials

Graphene Flagship composite materials innovations to be exhibited at JEC World

The Graphene Flagship will highlight its partners’ latest innovations in graphene composites at JEC World, which is the world’s leading composites show. Between 25 April and 27 April 2023, this event – which will take place in Paris-Nord Villepinte – will bring together professionals from research, business and government within the context of the composite materials industry.

By Rosalind Moran / 04 April 2023
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