NetComposites is leading a new collaborative R&D project aimed at developing a synthesis platform to deliver industrial quantities of graphene-filled epoxy resins for advanced composite applications.
The NanoSynth project will have a significant impact on a wide range of markets, such as aerospace and automotive, where improvements are needed in the strength, stiffness, toughness, electrical conductivity and thermal performance of epoxies.
Graphene is usually obtained industrially by expanding and separating graphite layers using combined thermal and chemical methods. These are typically energy-intensive, low-yield methods that use large amounts of solvent.
Attempts to produce and disperse graphene in situ (in the polymer) focus on viscous thermoplastic systems but little attention is being paid to low-viscosity epoxy resins, despite a need to improve their properties, and a world market of £9.8bn.
“NanoSynth will therefore develop methods for producing large-scale quantities of graphene-filled epoxy resins by utilising ConCor milling to exfoliate commercially available graphite and disperse the resulting graphene directly into resin,” said Ben Hargreaves, Senior Project Manager at NetComposites. “We will then develop the intermediate processing techniques which allow this material to be used in the production of composite parts.”
Detailed evaluation of the health-and-safety risks presented by the materials and processes employed in the project will be used to build a robust risk-management methodology, reducing any barriers to commercial exploitation arising from safety concerns
The following seven companies are involved in the NanoSynth project.
· NetComposites Ltd (Project Coordinator);
· Primary Dispersions Ltd;
· Cytec Industrial Materials (Derby)Ltd;
· The Institute of Occupational Medicine;
· Nanoforce Technology Ltd;
· B/E Aerospace (UK) Ltd;
· Bombardier Aerospace Belfast.
The project began on 1st April 2013 and is set to run for 33 months. Funded by the Technology Strategy Board, the overall project budget is £955,244 with a grant of £477,561.
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