Aeroplane engine

Heat resistant composite for aircraft engines

A new composite material has been developed for high temperatures. The material consists of extremely durable plastic, reinforced with carbon fibre, and is suitable for use in for example aircraft engines.

The aerospace industry is constantly working to find lightweight and strong materials that can withstand high temperatures. As a result of primarily American research and development, composites for high temperatures have existed for more than 15 years.

These composites however, have only been available in American aerospace and military programmes. Thanks to the HicTac project, coordinated by Swerea, solutions are now available for the commercial aviation industry.

New manufacturing technique for composite

In a joint project, Swerea and Nexam have developed a new composite material consisting of a special plastic and carbon fibre. With a new and unique production technology, the plastic is injected into a carbon fibre structure. The method works because this plastic is more fluid during production than other corresponding plastics.

More heat resistant composite out on the market

Dane Momcilovic, lead engineer at Nexam, explains that while Nexam developed the plastic, Swerea has handled composite production and material evaluation. The collaboration has resulted in a heat resistant composite that Nexam has commercialised.

“Without Swerea it would have been very difficult to come this far in evaluating the final material,” says Dane Momcilovic.

Withstand higher temperatures

Using polymeric composites on aircraft engines is not new. Carbon fibre composites based on epoxy plastic are already used for external engine parts where temperatures seldom exceed 150 degrees. The new material withstands temperatures all the way up to 360 degrees and can thus be used further inside the engines.