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Science Technology

Self-Healing System Applied to Aviation 76

ScienceDaily is reporting that the self-healing materials are being used in some new aircraft designs. We covered several self-healing systems in the past months, but it is nice to see it starting to find practical applications. "This simple but ingenious technique, similar to the bruising and bleeding/healing processes we see after we cut ourselves, has been developed by aerospace engineers at Bristol University, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It has potential to be applied wherever fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites are used. These lightweight, high-performance materials are proving increasingly popular not only in aircraft but also in car, wind turbine and even spacecraft manufacture. The new self-repair system could therefore have an impact in all these fields."
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Self-Healing System Applied to Aviation

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  • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

    by SBacks ( 1286786 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @01:29PM (#23464498)
    Unfortunately, this wouldn't have much of an impact on macro-scale damage. Its much more useful for those tiny microscopic cracks that can grow and lead to a failure. Much like when you slice your finger as opposed to cutting the entire hand off.
  • world war 2 (Score:2, Informative)

    by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @01:34PM (#23464550)
    self sealing fuel tanks. []
  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @01:49PM (#23464706)
    I'm no engineer, but wouldn't the use of new self-healing polymers be inferior to a mechanical failsafe or backups... Wounds don't heal when aggravated, and bones have been known to heal badly (which could translate to a greater problem)...

    I don't think they intended this to be a long term solution to aircraft damage, but rather keep the airplane in the air until it can land safely and then the ground crew can make long term repairs.
  • Re:Currently (Score:4, Informative)

    by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @02:39PM (#23465312) Homepage Journal
    Previously, we've had self-sealing fuel tanks since WW2. But those had some weird lining that expanded to close the puncture. The important part is preventing burnoff and explosion, not so much leakage. If your venting fuel, you can still (as long as it's not huge) get to the ground safely.

    That chromate conversion does sound awesome, but is that useful outside of cosmetic applications? (self-repairing bumpers and rims, anyone?)
  • Re:Currently (Score:4, Informative)

    by gyrogeerloose ( 849181 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:17PM (#23466668) Journal

    That chromate conversion does sound awesome, but is that useful outside of cosmetic applications?

    I'm not an expert in this but I believe the chromates the OP is referring to are the type typically used as corrosion inhibitors. If you've ever been inside military airplane, you might have noticed the bright green paint used on the interior. That's zinc chromate. You can see how a anti-corrosion layer which could self-repair would be of great use in harsh environments or safety-critical applications.

  • by SBacks ( 1286786 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:24PM (#23466772)
    That's actually caused by the fact that its used in Aerospace applications. The testing/qualification process to get a part into operation takes 4-5 years minimum, and usually more like a decade. If they forecast this being in use in 4 years, then its got to be pretty much ready for full scale testing now.

Space is to place as eternity is to time. -- Joseph Joubert