Advanced Materials and Composites
The rapid development of technology imposes strict demands on the performance of the materials. A variety of factors drives this demand. First, modern technology makes planes, cars, and marine vessels that move faster and experience higher static and dynamic loads. Industrial endeavors toward the reduction of the carbon footprint lead to replacing gasoline-powered engines with electric ones. This transition also requires lighter and stronger materials to be used. Green power is another emerging industry that requires new materials for wind turbine blades.
Carbon fiber and fiberglass composites have been proving for many years their ability to replace conventional materials such as metals, wood, and plastic in the critical applications. It is because the fiber materials have a better balance between their strength and weight. Graphene has the potential of improving fiber composites in a variety of ways. It has them ready for the upcoming industrial revolution.
Albeit, the fibers carry the most load in the composites, the matrix also plays an essential role in keeping the fibers together and transferring the load. Thus, an enhancement of the matrix would lead to the improvement of the composite. Graphene offers unprecedented potential for improving the resins used in the manufacturing of composite materials. Graphene infusion greatly enhances many aspects of the materials’ performance. Graphene nanoplatelets in the matrix inhibit the formation and propagation of the cracks forming as a result of shock or catastrophic load. The graphene-enhanced composites exhibit much higher fatigue and impact resistance compared to their conventional counterparts.
The scientific team of G6 Materials is working hard on developing formulations for graphene-enhanced composites to make the benefits offered by graphene available for our customers. We commit to providing our customers easy to implement solutions that would deliver added value to their products.
The remarkable properties of graphene, which includes unprecedented mechanical strength and electrical conductivity, could be utilized for improvement of the performance of materials widely used in multiple industries, thereby resulting in better products and reducing cost and increasing value.
Graphene enhancement could make even the best materials do better. The topnotch performance is undoubtedly expected from the materials employed in making sports gear equipment. It has been proven that graphene could be successfully used in making athletic shoes with improved wear resistance. Graphene is also used for producing materials for reinforcing tennis rackets. Graphene coatings exhibit low friction and are used for making faster skis. The research team of G6 Materials Corp. is always looking for opportunities to make formulations that could be successfully implemented in the sports industry.
On the Land
The automotive industry is continuously searching for lighter and stronger materials. This effort is fueled by the industry’s endeavor to reduce its carbon footprint. Automobiles account for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is a significant factor contributing to climate change. Targeting for better fuel efficiency and eventually for a transition to electric-powered vehicles, the automotive industry is in a desperate need to explore new materials. The composites, being lighter than metals, provide a viable solution by improving the fuel efficiency of the gasoline-powered vehicles and increasing the driving range of the electrically powered ones. Thus, the automotive industry offers a driving force for the rapid growth of the composite market. Graphene improves the composite in a way that is beneficial to automotive applications by enhancing the fatigue and impact resistance of the composite materials. This improvement adds value to the automotive product by reducing the cost of maintenance and prolonging the service life of the composite parts.
The most significant recent change in the boat building industry occurred in the 1940s–70s when fiberglass replaced wood as a material of choice for boat construction. Since then, the composite materials are widely used for boat building. The fiber reinforcement used nowadays is not limited only to fiberglass. Carbon and aramid fibers are being rapidly adopted as reinforcement material.
Indeed, the composite materials offer many advantages such as excellent strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, low cost of maintenance. Unfortunately, together with these advantages, there are also significant drawbacks. The composites often have poor impact resistance, low heat tolerance, and weak UV resistance.
Adding graphene to the laminating resin solves almost all these problems. UV resistance improves because of the light absorption nature of the graphene nanoplatelets and by their ability to quench the molecular excitation on the quantum level. Graphene also increases the melting temperature of the polymer, thereby improving heat tolerance. Graphene also naturally increases the impact resistance.
In addition to fixing the known problems, the graphene improves the composites in a particular way that makes them better suited as materials for marine applications. First, the graphene nanoplatelets enhance water impermeability. Corrosion for composites is as much an issue as it is for metals; slow degradation of the composite due to the water penetration and hydrolysis of the laminating resin is still a problem. The infusion of graphene nanoplatelets in the laminating resin creates a barrier for water molecules and inhibits their diffusion.
Another notable improvement that graphene offers over the composites used in boat building is better fatigue resistance. Over the course of its service life, a boat experiences millions of oscillations created by waves. These oscillations impose cyclic loads that slowly damage the composite over time.
At G6 Materials, we have developed graphene additives for vinyl ester and epoxy, the most popular laminating resins. Shipbuilders could use these additives, which would interfere minimally with their usual manufacturing process.
In the Air
The aerospace industry has always been an early adopter of new materials, mostly due to strict requirements for weight reduction. Since 1987, the use of composites in aerospace has doubled every five years, and modern composites regularly appear. The advantages of composite use in the aviation industry are indisputable. The drawbacks, however, are also recognized by the industry. The drawbacks include unpredictable fatigue behavior, which was discovered by Rolls-Royce the hard way when carbon fiber compressor blades in the RB211 jet engine failed catastrophically as a result of bird strikes.
The rapid development of unmanned aerial vehicles fueled the demand for even lighter and stronger composites. From one side, the drone applications impose even stricter requirements on the weight-to-strength ratio of the material as the weight reduction is of paramount importance for the long-range drone operation. On the other hand, the cycle of the adoption of the new materials is shorter because the safety requirements for the unmanned system are less strict compared to traditional aviation.
Graphene offers a variety of improvements to the aerospace composites; improved fatigue resistance and enhanced impact resistance are the most important ones.