Self-Repairing Aircraft Mimic Borg Cubes

Aircraft using fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites may be able to use a "self-healing" technique to repair cracks and small holes - even in flight.


(Fractured FRP with epoxy resin bleeding into damaged area (UV light))

Engineers at Bristol University, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) developed the technique. Here's how it works:

If a tiny hole/crack appears in the aircraft (e.g. due to wear and tear, fatigue, a stone striking the plane etc), epoxy resin would 'bleed' from embedded vessels near the hole/crack and quickly seal it up, restoring structural integrity.

The ingenious technique works by filling hollow glass fibers contained in FRP composites with special epoxy resin and hardener. If there is a break, the resin flows out, sealing the damaged area, and then hardens. The picture shown above illustrates how the epoxy resin bleeds into the damaged area.

"This approach can deal with small-scale damage that's not obvious to the naked eye but which might lead to serious failures in structural integrity if it escapes attention," says Dr Ian Bond, who has led the project. "It's intended to complement rather than replace conventional inspection and maintenance routines, which can readily pick up larger-scale damage, caused by a bird strike, for example."

I've written about this kind of technique before; see these articles on Nanotech Self-Healing Houses and Self-Healing Polymer Autonomous Material System for variations on self-healing materials. SF author JG Ballard wrote about a material with similar uses in self-healing houses; he called it plastex.

Update 28-Apr-2012: In his 1951 novel Asteroid of Fear, Raymond Z. Gallun wrote about self-sealing plastic that was used in space to protect against damage by micrometeorites.

It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures that grain-of-sand-sized meteors might make.

End update.

As far as it's use in aircraft is concerned, this kind of material may remind readers of the self-healing Borg cubes; the process can be seen at about 2'40" into the following video:


(Borg cube repairs itself [starting at 2:40])

Via Self-repairing Aircraft Could Revolutionize Aviation Safety; thanks to Moira for the tip. (Note to Moira: thanks for the tip on Iron Man biological circuit fabrication. I did like the article - I wrote it! Xinhuanet stole the article verbatim from a version printed with permission on LiveScience.com.)

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/19/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Vehicle ")

Electric Monocyle Tumblebug Available On Alibaba
'... it is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel.' - Robert Heinlein, 1940.

China's Self-Driving Electric Trucks Are Poul Anderson's Electrotrucks
'... the trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles..' - Poul Anderson, 1956.

Elon Musk STILL Wants To Make Heinlein's 1940's Speedster
'As she neared the barrier the car surged and lifted...' - Robert Heinlein, 1941.

Electric Vehicle Prices Will Drop To $2,890
'the human seats took up two-thirds of the room in each'

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
'... sweating, heat-blistered engineers at every interplanetary radiograph station on three planets.'

SF Writers Predicted John Deere Autonomous Tractors
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'

DARPA Funding AI Fighter Pilots
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

StoryFile To Help William Shatner Become Landru
"I am Landru. I am he! All that he was, I am."

Telehealth Drones To The Rescue
'A shadow passed over him, and he looked up.'

Capture Asteroids In A Bag
'... just as a small boy catches a swift ball in his cap.'

Sony Pocket Air Conditioner Is Phil Dick's Idea!
'... he went to the hall closet to get his pith helmet and his mandatory cooling-unit.'

Is It Possible To GROW Planes And Vehicles?
'These are your rudimentary seed packages...'

Guard Dog Robot Security Check
'We still use people at the main gates, but here it's an automated sentry.'

Sheepskin Parchment Helped Medieval Lawyers Prevent Fraud
'The single sheet he held, and even the words and signatures upon it, were all integral parts of a single giant molecule...'

Space 'Hurricane' Has Been Seen
'... it was the biggest of the four hundred odd storms raging in the Fifty Suns region.'

PR2 Fencing Robot Perfect For Kwisatz Haderach-in-training
'Now, we'll work on your timing. Let me see you catch that thing sinister.'

Sole Morphing Astronaut Boots - A New Pair Of Moon Boots?
'Itís an ideal device for kangarooing along in lunar gravity.'

Mice Gestate In Mechanical Womb
'... in the Decanting Room, the newly-unbottled babes uttered their first yell of horror and amazement.'

3rd Century BC Gold Bee Is Just The Start
Bees knees, I order you to freeze!

Worlds With Underground Oceans More Conducive To Life
'There is life on Europa.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.