Aircraft

World's first graphene-skinned airplane unveiled in the UK

World's first graphene-skinned...
Members of the engineering team pose with Juno
Members of the engineering team pose with Juno
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Members of the engineering team pose with Juno
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Members of the engineering team pose with Juno

At the recent Farnborough Air Show 2018, aerospace engineers from Britain's University of Central Lancashire presented what they state is the world's first graphene-skinned aircraft. Known as Juno, the 3.5 meter-wide (11.5-ft) unmanned plane could be a sign of things to come.

Developed in partnership with the Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the University of Manchester's National Graphene Institute, and Haydale Graphene Industries, Juno additionally features graphene-based batteries and 3D-printed components. Its skin, though, is where the real action is.

Consisting of one-atom-thick layers of linked carbon atoms, graphene is not only the world's strongest manmade material, but it's also highly conductive, both thermally and electrically.

Because it's so strong, an outer covering of it adds strength to conventional fuselage materials. This allows for less of those materials to be used, leading to significant weight reductions. As a result, aircraft incorporating such skins could carry heavier payloads without using more fuel, or fly for longer distances on a given amount of fuel. Additionally, because graphene's thermal conductivity allows heat to spread throughout the material, it's not prone to ice buildup.

And finally, the electrical conductivity of graphene causes the energy of lightning strikes to be dispersed throughout the surface of the fuselage, as opposed to causing damage through localized heating in one area.

The engineers plan to conduct test flights of Juno over the next two months.

Source: Marketing Lancashire

9 comments
VincentWolf
And it allows for electrical motors for the transport more readily.
paul314
The skin is way more than one atom thick. Perhaps it has graphene patches filled with epoxy instead of the usual woven carbon fibers (which are also conductive). Perhaps a non-marketing source?
MQ
Show me the graphene. Otherwise it is all marketing bollocks and technobabble.
BTW graphene is naturally occurring, it is nothing other than a single platelet of naturally occurring graphite, usually fairly small, the manmade bit is getting it to usable/useful dimensions...
Stick graphite in a blender and you too can epoxy coat your toy in graphen(ish) reinforced epoxy, just add a few layers of CF and Kevlar for insurance.
MerlinGuy
Gimick. The article says a lot about what graphene can do but doesn't say if those advantages were applied to this plane. Plus it's not a plane unless it can fly, it's just an expensive, tax-payer funded model.
ted
The claims for material weight reduction, electrical, and thermal benefits are highly suspect.
Paulinator
I got a sample of graphene thread. It's preformance and price are both stunning. It's still several years away from viability.
ljaques
Don't know how graphene would make electric motors easier, Vince. The article says "one-molecule-thick layers" but doesn't specify total thickness. Recent advances have been made with graphene sheet via lasers and nanotubes, so maybe they've done it. Need closeups and more info, eh?
Expanded Viewpoint
It says "one atom thick layers", so which is it, a sheet of material just one atom thick, or many sheets laid one atop another?? If it's layers, how are they bonded together? What's up with all the hype and hoopla about electric powered cars, trucks and airplanes? That electricity must come from somewhere, and where it comes from is VERY important! One of those huge wind turbines with 260 TONS of steel in it require more electricity to manufacture than it will ever generate over it's life time of use! How is that "saving" the planet?!?! The nuclear power industry is a scam too. It would have been more cost effective to just leave the Uranium ore in the ground and burned all of that petroleum fuel used in mining and building nuke power plants to directly boil water and make electricity!! Solar cell power farms?? Don't make me laugh. Look at how much electricity it takes to make Silicon wafers and all the machinery associated with them and the farms, and then tell me where the bargain is!! Until someone can come up with a way to directly harvest some of the energy coming from our sun and the rest of the cosmos, and do it cheaply and efficiently and reliably, I don't need or want to hear about how this or that technology is "green". The only "green" aspect of it is how much green it's putting into someone's wallet or bank accounts.
Randy
spgray
Where are the women in this group shot? It is hard to believe that in 2018, females aren't interested in this subject and I bet there are some who are. Where are they, damn it?