Juno: World’s first graphene skinned plane

Aerospace engineers from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in collaboration with the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI) and the Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), Haydale Graphene Industries and a range of other businesses have developed a unique unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) world’s first graphene skinned plane, Juno.

Equipped with 3D printed parts and graphene batteries, the Juno that is 3.5m wide aircraft can counter the effects of potentially dangerous lightning strikes and protect itself against ice buildup during flight.

Graphene, a semi-metal with many uncommon properties and the strongest material tested ever. It conducts heat and electricity efficiently and is nearly transparent. It is used in various medical, chemical and industrial processes. This such a multifaceted material is used in this aircraft parts.

Using graphene in aircraft also posses various benefits. For example, graphene can help reduce the overall weight of the aircraft to increase its range and potential payload. This is made possible in Juno because the graphene carbon used in Juno is around 17 percent lighter than standard carbon fiber.

first Graphene skinned UAV

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 nanomaterials into the 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. Given that Lancashire represents the fourth largest aerospace cluster in the world, there is perhaps no better place to be developing next-generation technologies for the UK aerospace industry.”

When inquired have discovered the previous 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.

Engineering students at the university have been directly involved in the hands-on project, helping build Juno on the Preston Campus. Engineers recently unveiled the world’s first graphene-skinned plane at the “Futures Day” event at Farnborough Air Show 2018.

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