Carbon fibre chassis Alfa Romeo 4C

Designer materials: modelling novel composites

The Horizon 2020 proposal I’ve been writing—submitted earlier this week—deals with improved numerical simulation tools for the behaviour of complex, composite materials.

Think about carbon-fibre reinforced car bodies, aircraft wings, or surf boards. The performance of composite parts not only depends on the constituent materials, but to a large extend on fibre/matrix structure and material interactions at the molecular scale (e.g. fibre/matrix adhesion).

Most Finite Element Modelling (FEM) tools available today are very good at simulating the behaviour of uniform, homogeneous materials (steel, aluminium, ABS), but cannot adequately predict performance or processing behaviour of composites. The consortium I’m working with is proposing a solution by integrating material models at different scales: From the level of individual atoms and molecules to model thermoset resin curing, via micron-scale volumes to model fibre/matrix interface behaviours through to macro-scale models that predict the flow of resin filling a mould, and the performance of the resulting part on repeated loading.

Development and commercial deployment of novel materials is seen by the European Commission (EC) as a key driver for EU economic growth, and the ability to design novel materials “in-silico” by advanced materials modelling plays a major part in their Innovation strategy—in which the Horizon 2020 programme is an important instrument. Where the previous FP7 programme proved to be quite hard for SMEs to make use of, Horizon 2020 includes dedicated SME-instruments that are much easier to apply for—subject of another post.

As with my previous proposal-writing activities, I’m doing this for and with Bax & Willems Consulting Venturing, a Barcelona based company founded by my brother Laszlo. We will be happy to assist you when you’re interested in another EU call.

image by Pava, under CC license