University Chair ponders future of composites in aviation

Posted on 17 February 2011
richarddayhaslett

Professor Richard Day (UW Research Chair) and Professor Simon Haslett (UW Faculty Dean of STEM)

Recently delivering his inaugural lecture as University of Wales Research Chair, Professor Richard Day took his place among other notable speakers partaking in Glyndwr University’s 2010/11 Professional Lecture Series. The lecture was introduced by Lesley Griffiths AM, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills. The aim of the series is to showcase next generation research.

The lecture, held in the Catrin Finch Centre of Glyndwr University, explored the history of composite material use in aircraft, from the Wright Flyer to modern day jumbo jets.

Although composite materials have been used in aircraft for the past 100 years, Professor Day commenced his talk by explaining what a composite is, and what its uses are.

According to Professor Day, the seemingly steady aircraft industry is, in fact, an agile and changeable one. The use of carbon fibre composites in commercial aircraft is set to increase, driven by environmental issues and economics.

Composites have many other applications – they have been used in the Formula One world for a number of years – and in the lecture it was illustrated how lessons learnt from this field could help the aircraft industry.

Two important questions were beckoned: what effect will these factors have on future demand for commercial aircraft? And how can research conducted in Wales rise to the challenge?

Recognising that a key industrial problem in all composite materials is the rate at which materials and structures can be manufactured, Professor Day has dedicated most of his research to looking for ways in which to reduce the manufacturing time. These include the use of techniques which might be familiar in the kitchen: microwaves and the use of liquid heat transfer media (similar to deep fat frying). He is interested not only in increasing the rate of production but also maintaining the quality of the materials and structures produced.

Professor Day was also the first Director of the Northwest Composites Centre, an alliance which includes Manchester, Liverpool, Bolton, Lancaster and Glyndŵr Universities. He now works for Glyndŵr University as the University of Wales Professor of Composites Engineering. His appointment to Chair is part of the University of Wales’s aim of supporting the economic, social, cultural and intellectual well-being of Wales. It will support the building and enhancement of the research capacity of higher education in Wales, consistent with institutional mission and with the priority sectors identified by Welsh Assembly Government.

Professor Simon Haslett, Dean of the School of STEM at the University of Wales, who attended the lecture, said:

"Professor Day’s appointment to Chair is part of the University of Wales’s aim of supporting the economic, social, cultural and intellectual well-being of Wales. It will support the building and enhancement of the STEM research capacity of higher education in Wales, consistent with institutional mission and with the priority sectors identified by Welsh Assembly Government"

/Ends

Notes to Editors:

For more information on The University of Wales please visit: www.wales.ac.uk
 
For press and media information, please contact Communications Officer, Tomas Llewelyn Barrett t.barrett@wales.ac.uk

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