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.
In his 1951 novel Update 28-Apr-2012: 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.
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])
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
| | Email | RSS | Blog It Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and . add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...' - Allan Dean Foster, 2006.
Tesla Autopilot's 40 Percent Crash Reduction
''I hope all those other cars are on automatic,' he said anxiously.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1976
Cormorant Flying Car
'The cab came floating down out of the sky...' - James Blish, 1957.
Star Wars Speeder Bikes! On Water, By Jetovator
'Hey, wait!' Now, you don't need to say that.
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.
TALOS Exoskeleton Development Proceeding
'Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla...'
Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'
SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...'
Pangorin Restaurant Service Robots
What'll you have? Jawa juice?
Drug Creates Real Melanin Tan
I've used them all my life...
Medical Drones Hover Like Angels Near You
'The death-reversal equipment is on its way...'
SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...'
How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.'
'Liquid Light' Flows Around Corners
Light as a superfluid.
Unrolling The Filmy Materials Of Space Tech
'When unfolded and unrolled... it became a tough, gleaming film.'
Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend
'Nanny was built in the shape of a sphere, a large metal sphere, flattened on the bottom...'
Poli-X1 Prototype Bee Pollinator
Is there anything drones can't do?
Bake in Space Bake-Off... In Space!
'A joyous condition commenced for the cook in the electric kitchen...'
DeepMind AI Baffled By Homer Simpson, Needs Human Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off...'
Does Earth's Middle Mantle Hold Oceans Of Water?
Al Gore, you have no idea.
Vaccine Blocks Heroin High
'You're biochemically incapable of getting off...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories