European consortium project to explore self-healing composites for aerospace

Material testing firm Element Hitchin will be a partner in HIPOCRATES, a three-year European project that will use nanotechnology in developing self-healing aerospace materials.

Element Hitchin, U.K. (Hitchin, Hertfordshire, U.K.) has been chosen as a materials testing partner in HIPOCRATES, a three year Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) research project worth over €3.7 million that is designed to develop state-of-the-art self-repairing composite materials for the aerospace industry. Preliminary work has already started on the venture, which brings together some of Europe’s foremost companies and institutions in a consortium of materials testers, aerospace manufacturers and universities from France, Spain, the Netherlands and Greece.

The research has the potential to transform the aerospace industry, as it seeks to adapt resins, already widely used by aeronautical manufacturers and operators, with nano-technology to turn secondary structural composites into self-healing materials. Aircraft incorporating this technology would be more durable and have a longer service life, leading to significantly lower operational costs.

Element’s role within the 11-strong consortium will be to design and develop impact, fracture and fatigue mechanical tests to assess the efficiency of the self-healing process.

Rick Sluiters, Element’s vice president of Europe operations, says “As one of Europe’s market-leading materials testing laboratories, to be integral to a project this ambitious furthers Element Hitchin’s  reputation as cutting-edge experts in composites. This research will also benefit all Element aerospace testing teams, as the knowledge gained and new test methodologies innovated will be shared across our global network of 1,400 engaged experts and 40 laboratories."

To be concluded by November 2016, the pan-European endeavor is being part-funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme, which is contributing €2,774,148 to the project.