The Irish Centre for Composites Research at the University of Limerick has been awarded €240,000 by the European Space Agency for a new space materials research project.
The new 18 month project led by Dr Walter Stanley, Lecturer in Mechanical, Aeronautical, and Biomedical Engineering at UL is called “Demisable Bio-Composite Materials” and got underway last month.
The project will look to create a new bio-composite material for space applications within ESA’s Clean Space Initiative. Developing new, greener technologies is key to the initiative with the focus on making space activities more sustainable. iComp’s bio-composites research will help develop these new greener materials and move toward a life-cycle that is capable of being continued with minimum long-term effect on the environment.
The demisability (the ability of a material to disintegrate during an atmospheric re-entry) of the material is a key element of the research project, carbon fibres when used in spacecrafts could potentially pose a risk upon atmospheric entry. Due to their intractability the fibres have limited demisability and spacecraft structural parts may survive the atmospheric entry, or re-entry and reach the ground with an associated casualty risk. Environmentally compatible alternatives are being investigated and examined.
This is the first contract awarded by the European Space Agency to IComp, which is a Technology Centre funded by Enterprise Ireland.