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Graphene Skinned Drone Airplane

Graphene is a very versatile ultra-strong, lightweight material that is finding use in everything from supercapacitors to body armor. Graphene film is stronger than diamonds and engineers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the U.K. recently unveiled the world’s first graphene-skinned drone aircraft at the “Futures Day” event at the Farnborough Air Show 2018. This innovative new aircraft called Juno has a wingspan of 11.5 feet and includes graphene batteries and 3D-printed parts. The use of graphene in place of carbon fiber has resulted in a 17% reduction in weight over the use of carbon fiber. This 17% reduction in weight can be used to increase flying range and/or increased payloads.

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The multidisciplinary design team included engineers from the Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI), Haydale Graphene Industries (Haydale), University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), and additional regional businesses. 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 of 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 nano-materials into industry.”

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The Juno Project team represents the latest phase in a long-term strategic partnership between the University (UCLan) and a range of organizations. The JUNO development team expects the next step is to fly Juno and conduct further systems testing over the coming months. UCLan will be opening a new 32 million pound Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) at UCLan in February 2019, thus increasing the support for innovative programs like Juno.

For more info: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/first-graphene-skinned-plane/

This multidiscipline innovative materials application and drone aircraft development has the potential to impact the entire aerospace industry. It appears to have high potential to be an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), i.e drone, paradigm changer.

What do you think?