The notion of industry 4.0 is all about the well-connectivity and smartness of the industry and its response to the needs of the society. The application of graphene towards smart and well-connected products, particularly in aerospace, is increasing due its excellent intrinsic characteristics such as higher electrical and thermal conductivity, in addition to higher strength and lighter weight. The European Union, under its one of the biggest scientific initiatives ‘Graphene Flagship,’ invested 1 billion euros in exploring the applications of graphene in next-generation products, and the investment is increasing rigorously over the years after the demonstration of promising results shown by graphene.
Till date, graphene has been predominantly used for sensors and thermal management, but its installation in load bearing aero-structures have not been explored yet in spite of its superlative mechanical properties. Designers can exploit a combination of properties of interest to realize a single multifunctional component using graphene. For instance, a single part based on the graphene can act as a structural component, while at the same time as a heat sink and/or an electrical sensor. The multi-functionality of a single part, as a result, will minimize the number of parts required and also will simplify the manufacturing cycle.
The proposed research aims to develop multifunctional load bearing aero-structures for next-generation aircrafts. This will be a step forward toward the future of aircrafts, which shall be more smart, more electric, and well-connected with higher sensing capabilities. The findings of this research will bring advancement to Abu Dhabi’s aerospace technological know-how in terms of using smart aircraft structures with sufficient structural integrity in combination with higher sensing, which is one of the strategic priority areas of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The smart composite structure will be able to monitor its health condition while in service, and will provoke preventive maintenance measures of the aero-structural components that could possibly avoid catastrophic, non-alarming failure. The project will join the forces of its multi-disciplinary faculty and young Emirati researchers, highlighting Abu Dhabi’s strategic priority in manufacturing, aerospace, and other critical national and global needs.