Three Companies Produce Graphene-Based Leading Edge

Aernnova, Grupo Antolin-Ingenieria, and Airbus produced a lighter leading-edge piece for the Airbus A350. Photo courtesy of The Graphene Fellowship.

Three partner companies in The Graphene Flagship (Västra Götaland County, Sweden), a global aerostructures design and manufacturing company, collaborated in the production of the first graphene-based leading edge for an Airbus A350 horizontal tall plane.

The leading edge, the crucial piece of the airplane wing or tail plane that first contacts the air, is subjected to extreme temperatures due to the compressive heating of the air ahead of the wing. Because of this fact, the leading edge must have excellent mechanical and thermal properties. Graphene increases these properties, resulting in decreased fracture speed. Additionally, increasing the resin properties with graphene makes for a thinner, lighter leading edge without sacrificing safety and functionality.

The three partners on the project—Aernnova (Miñano Mayor, Spain), Grupo Antolin-Ingenieria (Burgos, Spain), and Airbus (Leiden, The Netherlands)—came together to achieve a common goal of developing graphene-based technologies and materials. According to Ana Reguro Simón, Aernnova’s program and project manager, her company supplied the resin to Grupo Antolin-Ingenieria, who then added graphene directly to it and applied milling forces. The result was the creation of graphene particles, which Simón described as “an important step to get good graphene infiltration within the resin [and avoid] unwanted impurities.” Simón also stressed the importance of maintaining the viscosity of the resin to ensure an optimal outcome.

With the success of their small-scale tests involving graphene, the three partners will test a one-third scale model by the end of 2018. “This is a great example of the collaborations fostered by the Graphene Flagship, said Professor Andrea C. Ferrari, science and technology officer of The Graphene Flagship, and chair of its management panel. “The development and system integration of graphene-based technologies follows the plans of our innovation and technology, where composite technologies play a prominent role.”

Source: The Graphene Fellowship,