Clean Sky is the largest European research program for the development of innovative and groundbreaking technologies for the sustainable aviation of tomorrow. Noise reduction, lower-emission engines and reduction of CO2 production are just as much addressed in this research program as energy-saving manufacturing processes, recycling technologies and the use of sustainable materials.
Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (CSJU) is a successful public-private partnership between the European Commission and the European aeronautics industry, coordinating research and development work . The aim is very clear: to strengthen the European aeronautics industry and to develop a global leadership position in innovative and sustainable aviation.
INVENT with its project “ecoTECH” is contributing to this goal, being a core partner in the follow-up program Clean Sky2. Under the coordination of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and together with eleven other partners from five European countries INVENT is now working within the “ecoTECH” project on innovative and environmentally friendly technologies for the next generation of aircrafts to achieve the reduction of the ecological footprint.
With our many years of development work on material systems of sustainable raw materials for use in lightweight applications, it is now time to transfer our expertise to the high demands of the aeronautics industry. Together with our partners we thoroughly analyzed the characteristics of the material systems with regard to their suitability for use in civil aviation. Particularly promising is the application for interior equipment, e.g. in the passenger cabin of the aircraft. Especially the relation between weight to mechanical performance as well as the strict fire protection requirements are very challenging.
Just now promising and sustainable components are being identified for which our innovative material systems are a real alternative. These will then be implemented in form of demonstrators to show the feasibility of the systems on real objects. Of course, the materials are tested intensively particularly the demanding fire protection tests are worth mentioning. After all, safety is the highest priority in aviation.
Another focus of the “ecoTECH” project is put on new technologies for a more energy-efficient production of aircraft components. The state of the art today are so-called prepreg components, which are produced in autoclaves under high pressure and high temperature. This works very reliably, but also requires a lot of energy for heating and compressors. Self-heating molds and processing with the sole assistance of vacuum can significantly reduce energy consumption. This is made possible by generating the necessary curing temperature directly on the component instead of heating the entire autoclave. The so-called infusion process in which the original components (fibers and synthetic resin) are merged not until the component is manufactured is particularly advantageous in terms of energy. Unlike the use of prepreg, this ensures a more sustainable use of resources and material storage. The novel infusion process is complemented by a technology development to reduce the infusion time. A reduction of the process time by 35% has already been successfully demonstrated in experiments, and the target is 50% by the end of the project. Additional benefits of this future technology are the possibility to manufacture more complex structures and the reduction of the necessary process temperature.