ITA scientists bestowed with JEC Innovation Award 2013

ITA scientists bestowed with JEC Innovation Award 2013

1_JEC Innovation Award 20131_JEC Innovation Award 2013

Again two scientists of ITA Institute for Textile Technology of University RWTH Aachen were bestowed at JEC European Composites Show and Conference in Paris (F) on March 12, 2013 for their light weight construction material using pitch-based carbon fibres aligned in a honeycomb structure

4_Pitch-based carbon fibres, honey-comb structures and thermally conductive prototypeThe lightweight construction disposes of more than 27/mK thermal conductivity, thus a heat conductivity to match that of steel alloy. The two ITA scientists, Professor Thomas Gries and Dr. Michael Glowania were already bestowed with the first prize from the university competition ZukunftErfindenNRW (Inventing the future North Rhine Westphalia) on January 14, 2013.

The invention is groundbreaking and could lead to a paradigm shift in the industry. It represents a giant leap forward in lightweight construction.  Carbon fibres and polymers with a low density and high thermal conductivity are in the future capable of replacing metal components since synthetic fibres are much lighter than steel. Due to weight reduction, impressive energy savings are possible. This will have its effect on leading industrial sectors such as automotive, aerospace and mechanical engineering. The considerable energy savings coupled with the responsible use of energy are paving the way into the market and with a global competitive advantage.

Besides that the new composite is lightweight it offers also outstanding thermal stability by withstanding temperatures of up to 180°C and therefore its application is given when lightweight construction and high conductivity are crucial. The new composite weights less than aluminium and is therefore a promising new option for automotive and aircraft use, for instance for the heat sink of batteries used in electric cars and other vehicles as well as in the production of helicopter tails.

The real leap of the new lightweight composite

Established is already the fact that pitch-based carbon fibres aligned in one direction do have a high thermal conductivity and the carbon fibre conducts heat twice as well as copper being known as one of the best heat conductors. Formerly, the production of carbon fibre was very difficult because of the brittle nature of the material. The ITA scientists’ new approach has been a combination of solutions. Firstly, they enhanced the process ability of ultra-high modulus carbon fibres. The extremely brittle material is providing now an elastic modulus of 950 GPa. Secondly they aligned the fibres in the targeted component in the thickness direction and achieved direct heat conduction and by reducing costs and providing ample efficiency. Thirdly, the insulating polymeric matrix – where the carbon fibres are embedded – was modified, leading to the high heat conduction.

The two awarded scientists stated: “We are delighted that our development is internationally recognised by the JEC Award. Should our new lightweight approach be adapted worldwide, it is certain that it will provide industrial applications with a competitive advantage and it will further mark a significant step forward in energy saving”.

The JEC Innovation award is bestowed yearly at the JEC Show in the French capital Paris and forms part of the JEC Innovation Programme founded in 1998 and with the aim to identify the most innovative worldwide composite solutions, and by promoting and rewarding advancement in composites, encouraging companies to develop innovative solutions by partnering and to contribute to the overall advancement of the composite industry. For more than 14 years the JEC Innovation Programme has led to the fact that over 1600 companies were inspired to enhancements in the composite field. 2013 the Awards ceremony was sponsored by CYTEC, JEC Composites Magazine, Aviation Week and Innovation & Industry.

For more information on the work of ITA, please refer to the link below.

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