The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has unveiled the world’s first graphene-skinned plane at an internationally renowned air show.
Juno, a 3.5m wide graphene-skinned aircraft, was revealed on the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) stand as part of the ‘Futures Day’ at Farnborough Air Show 2018.
The University’s aerospace engineering team has worked in partnership with the Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI), Haydale Graphene Industries (Haydale) and a range of other businesses to develop the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which also includes graphene batteries and 3D printed parts.
The Juno project team represents the latest phase in a long-term strategic partnership between the University and a range of organisations.
The partnership is expected to go from strength to strength following the opening of the £32m EIC facility in February 2019.
Billy Beggs, UCLan’s engineering innovation manager, said: “The industry reaction to Juno at Farnborough was superb with many positive comments about the work we’re doing. Having Juno at one the world’s biggest air shows demonstrates the great strides we’re making in leading a programme to accelerate the uptake of graphene and other nano-materials into industry.
“The programme supports the objectives of the UK Industrial Strategy and the University’s Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) to increase industry relevant research and applications linked to key local specialisms.”
Lancashire represents the fourth largest aerospace cluster in the world, and prrevious graphene developments at UCLan have included the world’s first flight of a graphene skinned wing and the launch of a specially designed graphene-enhanced capsule into near space using high altitude balloons.
Ray Gibbs, chief executive officer, said: “We are delighted to be part of the project team. Juno has highlighted the capability and benefit of using graphene to meet key issues faced by the market, such as reducing weight to increase range and payload, defeating lightning strike and protecting aircraft skins against ice build-up.”
The next step is to fly Juno and conduct further tests over the next two months.