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Graphene partnership could deliver next generation of aircraft

  • Graphene components could deliver lighter, stronger and conductive aeroplane parts
  • Partnership comes hot on the heels of the Chinese President's visit to the University

Graphene composite-based planes could be a step closer to reality as a result of a partnership between The University of Manchester and a leading Chinese aviation company.

Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials(BIAM)has become the latest partner of the National Graphene Institute (NGI), based at the University, to promote the research and development in graphene reinforced aluminium matrix composites areas, and accelerate the application of graphene in the aviation industry and other sectors.

The NGI has around 50 industrial partners working collaboratively on a range of potential applications. The Institute has a number of collaborations with Chinese companies, and in October hosted President Xi Jinping as part of his state visit to the UK.

For this project, BIAM and the University, under the leadership of Professor Robert Young, will exchange expertise and cooperate on the structural characterisation and property testing of graphene reinforced aluminium matrix nanocomposites.

The projects could result in lighter, stronger and conductive parts for aeroplanes, high speed trains and other industrial equipment to replace traditional materials. With graphene added, the strength of aluminium alloy could be highly improved while retaining its ductile quality.

The collaboration could improve the technology maturity and accelerate the updating of aeroplane structural materials and functional materials.


James Baker
Aerospace and other transport areas show great potential for graphene activity and The University of Manchester is leading the way in these areas and many others
James Baker

In the future, the two parties expect to expand the collaboration on graphene materials. Besides the graphene reinforced aluminium matrix composites, both parties will seek collaboration in areas of graphene energy storage materials, environmental purification materials and information materials.

Dai Shenglong, President of BIAM, said: “Graphene is expected to revolutionize the technology sector. Graphene and its products have unique properties and show wide prospects for applications.

“BIAM has obtained achievements in the areas of graphene modified structural materials and functional materials, the preparation process and large scale production of graphene nanoflakes and graphene films, and has achieved some extensive application experiences in the aviation industry.

“Now the collaboration with The University of Manchester will give full play to both sides’ favorable conditions, enhance fundamental research level, improve the technology maturity, and promote together the development of graphene and its products.”

James Baker, Business Director at The University of Manchester, said: “We are delighted to be working with BIAM on collaborative graphene applications.

“Aerospace and other transport areas show great potential for graphene activity and The University of Manchester is leading the way in these areas and many others. Partnering with companies like BIAM gives up the opportunity to accelerate products to market and turn fundamental research into applications of the future.”

BIAM mainly focuses on the engineering application of graphene modified structural materials and functional materials, and the R&D of graphene related new products and exploitation.