Nanocomposite material to help maintain bridges, aircraft

May 19th, 2009 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, May 19 (IANS) A newly discovered nanocomposite could vastly simplify and boost the maintenance of bridges and aircraft.
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) engineering lecturer Cheng Yan said a small piece of the polymer nanocomposite with carbon nanotube fillers could be placed on various surfaces to assist as an early warning system.

“It looks like a piece of thin black sheeting but it can act as a sensor to monitor the strength of infrastructure such as bridges, aircraft and ships,” Yan said.

“Large infrastructure like these must be monitored constantly for cracks, metal fatigue and warping over time so that repairs can be carried out before the damage becomes critical.”

Yan said the new nanocomposite sensor was light, strong, easy and cheap to install and more adoptable than many current systems.

“This new material works by monitoring small changes in strain when it is applied to crucial points on a structure such as a bridge or aircraft,” he said.

Maintenance officers can monitor changes in conductivity and can work out the strain applied to the sensor and by catching any deterioration early, save money on maintenance costs, said a QUT release.

“It can be also fabricated as a large sensor network attached to the surface of a structure, similar to the neural system in the human body, applying to the detection of car crash and structural health monitoring for various structures,” Yan said.

Yan is one of a team of QUT new material engineers exploring the use of nanotechnology in the creation of new materials for all industries.

His recent research also includes making stronger and tougher polymers using various nano-sized fillers.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Sci-Tech |