16 April 2009

Portugal: Flying the cork aeroplane

Aeronautical industry ist testing cork materials in ultralight aeroplanes

The use of composite cork materials in ultralight civilian aeroplanes is being developed and tested through the AEROCORK project. A sum of 1.27 million euros will be invested in this project with approx. 50% of that amount being funded by the National Strategic Reference Framework. The consortium responsible for the management of this investment is made up of Dyn’Aero Ibérica, Corticeira Amorim through Amorim Cork Composites, PIEP (Innovation in Polymer Engineering – University of Minho) and AST (Active Space Technologies).

The AEROCORK consortium is promoting the development of an ultralight eco-aeroplane. AEROCORK is producing, testing and certifying cork composites with a view to replacing synthetic materials used in aeroplanes of Dyn’Aero Ibérica by cork composites. The first flying tests are scheduled for the second half of 2010 with a view to the subsequent homologation of such aeroplanes by the Portuguese authorities.

Agglomerated cork is one of the most promising alternatives for replacing synthetic materials used in sandwich panels that are fundamental for guaranteeing the structural integrity of the aeroplane. In addition to its unique structural characteristics, cork offers undeniable environmental advantages – it is a sustainable, ecological, natural and recyclable material – and will contribute to a reduction of the impact of aviation on the environment.

Dyn’Aero Ibérica is based in Ponte de Sôr (Portugal) and fully manufactures one of the best performing ultralight aeroplanes in the world. This company will test the new cork components to be used in aeronautical structural and safety applications. The prototype model will be based on the MCR aeroplane being produced now.

Corticeira Amorim, the world’s leading producer and developer of cork composites, will be responsible for providing know-how about agglomerated cork that is the most appropriate to the aeronautical applications in question. PIEP (Innovation in Polymer Engineering, University of Minho) will be in charge of testing the mechanical behaviour of agglomerates and developing constitutive models based on computer simulation advanced systems. In its turn, Active Space Technologies will develop a CAD project and will be also responsible for the structural and thermal testing of developed components and their optimization.”

Source: Amorim, press release, 2009-04-14.

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