The development of a technology that allows the manufacture of flange wheels for the cooling systems of the aeronautics with 100% recyclable materials and the contribution to improve the sustainability of the aviation industry; this is the aim of the European INN-PAEK project led by Aitiip Technology Center, in collaboration with the Liebherr Group. This project, that entails a pioneering research in the world, has a budget of around one million euros and will conclude in June 2023.
The objective of the INN-PAEK project is to demonstrate the technical, economic and environmental feasibility of manufacturing a thermoplastic flange wheel. Thermoplastic is a type of composite material which properties are highly advantageous for aeronautics and transport since it is a material that can be recycled at the end of its useful life in order to manufacture new parts. In addition, it is lighter than the metals currently used to manufacture these types of parts. In this sense, the conventional manufacturing process of the current metal flange wheels, where the different parts are welded, will be replaced by injection molding, achieving a highly speed production –one shoot manufacturing-, as well as lower costs and energy consumption. Aitiip is developing this breakthrough methodology, which will make it possible to adapt the process to the particular and complex geometry that the production of this type of parts requires.
More sustainable and eco-friendly production for future aircraft
The project plans to provide different results during the development of its research, which has the ultimate objective of offering a more sustainable and eco-friendly production system for the aviation industry. On the one hand, regarding the materials, the project seeks to adjust thermoplastic formulations in order to reach feasibility for the transformation process and to modify the material to hold extreme temperatures and chemicals, as well as to reach 40% of weight reduction by introducing new materials such as carbon fiber. On the other hand, it aims to improve sound absorption capabilities and to reduce the final cost by 30% when applying new the manufacturing processes. It involves a general positive impact on the environment by reducing the carbon footprint of aeronautics.
The INN-PAEK project has received funding from the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (JU). The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation. Clean Sky 2 works with the ambitions of creating greener and more effective technologies for the next paradigms of air travel. The program highlights that each new generation of aircraft saves between 15% and 20% in fuel and CO2 compared to the aircraft it replaces. In addition, the demand will continue growing, creating an estimated need of 40,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years.