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Composites Industry News

News for July 2010


ÉireComposites Awarded €1.9 million in European Space Agency R&D Projects

6th July 2010 0 comments

Galway company, EireComposites Teo. has been awarded a total of €1.9 million in Research and Development contracts from the European Space Agency, aimed at producing new lightweight composite technologies for future space launcher and satellite structures.

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Long Fibres Improve Performance of Small-Scale Wind Turbine Blades

6th July 2010 0 comments

When China-based Hunan ZKenergy Wind Power Industrial Technology wanted to offer a reliable source for providing electricity to remote areas around the world, it adapted the technology of wind turbines to produce affordable, small-scale units suitable for off-grid locations.

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SouthWest NanoTechnologies Awarded $500,000 Development Grant

6th July 2010 0 comments

SouthWest NanoTechnologies, along with the University of Oklahoma (OU), has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) to develop carbon nanotube (CNT) enhanced cathode materials for low-cost efficient Li-ion electric vehicle batteries. This Oklahoma Nanotechnology Applications Project (ONAP), “”Advanced Cathode Materials for Next Generation Batteries used in All Electric Vehicles,”” is aimed at improving the Li-ion battery cyclability using SouthWest NanoTechnologies s Speciality Multi Wall (SMW) carbon nanotubes. Under this three-year grant, SouthWest NanoTechnologies will be working with the University of Oklahoma to solidify partnerships with automotive manufacturers as well as Li-ion battery producers to advance fully battery-powered vehicles. SouthWest NanoTechnologies will supply “”nanocomposite paste”” formulations containing SMW carbon nanotubes which will be sold to fabricators of finished cathodes and battery manufacturers. In ten years, SouthWest NanoTechnologies estimates that demand for these materials could exceed six tons of carbon nanotubes daily. “”We are honoured to receive this significant ONAP grant and we are truly grateful for the continued support of OCAST,”” says SouthWest NanoTechnologies CEO Dave Arthur. “”We plan to demonstrate that our SMW carbon nanotubes are the best cost/performance solution of all available carbon nanomaterials for Li-ion batteries used in automotive and other applications. Our success could lead to significant economic growth for the state of Oklahoma, as well as help enable a key strategic initiative for our country — to stimulate domestic production of Li-ion batteries for electric powered vehicles and greatly reduce our dependency on foreign oil.”” Today, Li-ion batteries have a limited lifespan, due to the degradation of battery capacity after each charge/discharge cycle. “”Consumers have accepted this battery performance for mobile devices such as laptop computers and cell phones, but this limitation will not be tolerated for electric powered vehicles,”” Arthur explains. During charging and discharging, the conductive carbon black particles used in today’s Li-ion battery cathodes start to separate, which diminishes the ability of the carbon particle network to conduct electricity and heat efficiently, resulting in significant degradation of battery capacity over time. According to SouthWest NanoTechnologies, due to the ultra-long tubular shape of SMW carbon nanotubes, they can form three-dimensional conductive networks at much lower loading than carbon black particles (capacity advantage). These networks are expected to be much more robust, to better withstand swelling/de-swelling and thermal/mechanical stresses (cyclability advantage). “”SouthWest NanoTechnologies SMW carbon nanotubes offer performance advantages over traditional multi-wall carbon nanotubes because of their significantly higher purity (99.9%) and superior tube structure (smaller diameter, fewer walls, fewer defects),”” Arthur says. “”They are also manufactured using the patented CoMoCAT process, which is inherently scalable and leads to consistent quality control at an affordable price. This is especially important when production rates are in the range of ‘tons’ per day.””

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Ontario Home for International Composites Research Centre

6th July 2010 0 comments

The University of Western Ontario has signed a memorandum of understanding with Fraunhofer that would see the development of a joint project – the International Composites Research Centre (ICRC). “This Centre would be unique in Canada and could make London [Ontario] and our region the leading site for advanced composite materials research and manufacturing-scale testing,” said Western President Amit Chakma. “The international reputation of the Fraunhofer Institute would be a great draw and this facility would be utilized by companies in several industrial sectors including the auto sector, the air and space industry, renewable energy, and construction.” Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the largest organization for applied research in Europe with more than 80 research units, including 62 Fraunhofer Institutes at different locations in Germany as well as research centers and offices in Europe, the U.S., Asia and the Middle East. It has 17,000 staff (mostly qualified scientists and engineers) and has an annual research budget of over $2 billion. Two thirds of the research revenue is derived from contracts with industry and from publicly financed research projects. The International Composites Research Centre would be located at the new Advanced Manufacturing Park in London. It would focus on the development of light-weight materials to be used by auto parts manufacturers and others in industry that produce structural components from composite material that can significantly decrease product weight. Western’s Vice-President (Research & International Relations), Ted Hewitt says, “We have already begun discussions and planning that will see us engage other partners from industry, including automotive manufacturers in North America and their Tier 1 suppliers, other universities and national labs in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.” “Western is an ideal partner for the Fraunhofer-ICT,” says Dr. Frank Henning, Deputy Director of the Fraunhofer-ICT. “Western has moved with speed to create with us a neutral, university-based platform for applied research. Through the ICRC, North American industry will be able to develop, test, and validate the most advanced materials and processes that will be part of the next generation of competitive, light-weight automobiles, airplanes, construction materials, and so on. We are delighted to partner with The University of Western Ontario, in the City of London, Ontario.” Hewitt also believes that the ICRC is the perfect kind of facility for the Advanced Manufacturing Park. “It will act as a magnet for industrial product development and from Western’s perspective, this expertise will also provide first-class opportunities for basic and applied research, and the training of the next generation of world-class engineers, technicians, and scholars.”

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Racecar Materials Technology Makes The Grade Offshore

6th July 2010 0 comments

Prodrive has recently constructed a number of large crude-oil filters for use on an offshore platform, replacing steel with composites, and the company is now exploring other potential offshore applications to complement its existing expertise in motorsport. “Composites are still unfamiliar materials in many industries, but we’ve found that their blend of strength and light weight, combined with our design and manufacturing expertise, provides some very attractive solutions to the many challenges of operating offshore,” explains Ian Handscombe, composites manager for Prodrive. “We’re supporting customers throughout the entire process of component design, material specification, manufacture and through to successful installation. In some cases, we have even developed quality standards and test procedures to help clients manage this new material throughout its life.” Achieving light weight does not compromise strength, says Handscombe: “As well as being intrinsically very light, composites allow you to vary the section and shape so the stiffness can be designed in precisely where it is needed. Our composite filters are a lot more durable than the steel originals and have excellent resistance to fatigue under vibration. Their abrasion-resistance is also better, extending the wear life of the filters particularly where they process an abrasive slurry.” Prodrive’s Handscombe is expecting increasing interest in composites for offshore applications where the material’s strength, durability and light weight can drive improvements in cost and performance. “As the offshore sector becomes more familiar with the properties of the materials, we expect many new applications and some innovative solutions to arise,” he concludes.

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Firehole Partners with Saratech to Expand Distribution of Composites Simulation Software

6th July 2010 0 comments

Firehole Technologies has partnered with engineering and management solutions provider Saratech to market and sell Firehole’s Helius line of software tools.

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Boeing Completes Firm Configuration of 787-9 Dreamliner

6th July 2010 0 comments

Boeing has completed the firm configuration for the 787-9 Dreamliner, reaching this milestone collaboration with airline customers and partners in this new stretch version of the Dreamliner. “”Firm configuration means the airplane’s structural, propulsion and systems architectures are defined and not changing,”” said Mark Jenks, vice president of 787-9 development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Boeing has completed the trade studies required to finalize the airplane’s overall capability and basic design, allowing the airplane manufacturer and its suppliers to begin detailed design of parts, assemblies and other systems for the 787-9. As detailed designs are completed and released, production can begin. The first 787-9 delivery is scheduled for late 2013. “”We have a disciplined process in place to ensure we have completed all of the requirements for the development stage of the program,”” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “”The team has done a fantastic job to get us through this important milestone.”” The 787-9 is the second member of the 787 family. A slightly bigger version of the 787-8, the airplane will seat 250-290 passengers, 16 percent more than the 787-8. The 787-9 will have a range of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,750 km). “”We have been working closely with our customers for years to reach this milestone,”” said Mark Jenks, vice president of 787-9 development. “”We are excited about the performance and capability this airplane will offer our customers.”” Delivery of the first 787 is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010.

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Indian Institute Selects Abaqus FEA for Composites Simulation

6th July 2010 0 comments

Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) (R&DE (E)) has selected Abaqus Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software from Simulia for its virtual testing of metal and composite materials.

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Fiberforge in Strategic Collaboration with Fraunhofer Institute

6th July 2010 0 comments

Fraunhofer ICT and Fiberforge have started a strategic collaboration on R&D projects for various industries such as, automotive and aerospace, with Fraunhofer ICT installing a Relay Station 2000 at its thermoplastics research centre.

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MAG AFP Systems Ordered for A350XWB Production

6th July 2010 0 comments

MAG Industrial Automation Systems has received an order for two Viper automated fibre placement systems to support production of the Airbus A350XWB at the plants of Germany’s Premium Aerotech. The two systems, valued at more than $12 million, will be shipped in 2011, joining six others already installed at, or soon to be shipped to, various European factories in the Airbus supply chain. “”This order further validates MAG’s role as the supplier of choice for automated fibre placement systems within the Airbus supply chain,”” said Randy Kappesser, Vice President and General Manager, MAG Composites Technologies. “”While our composites expertise originated in the U.S., the growing number of installations we have outside the Americas allowed us to open a new composite technology centre in 2009 in Göppingen, Germany. This materially enhanced our ability to win this order, as well as provide better support to customers in Europe and Asia as we go forward.”” Dr. Dieter Meiners, COO at Premium Aerotech, added, “”We are glad to expand our cooperation with MAG on the basis of this new project, and will enjoy the convenience of having a new technology center close to our locations.”” Premium Aerotech was created in 2009 with the spinoff of three German plants in Nordenham, Varel and Augsburg owned by Airbus and its parent, European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. As part of Airbus’ program to cut production costs and develop risk sharing partnerships with other firms, Premium Aerotech has been given contracts to work on the composites-intensive A350XWB wide-body plane.

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