Heraeus Noblelight Ltd. joins the FRAMES project: Reducing aircraft emissions with lightweight thermoplastic composites

Heraeus Noblelight joins the FRAMES project, part of the Clean Sky 2 program, the largest European research programme developing innovative, cutting-edge technology aimed at reducing CO2, gas emissions and noise levels produced by aircrafts. The project therefore researches the usage of thermoplastic composites for a lightweight aircraft rear fuselage and empennage. The FRAMES applied research project is scheduled for 2.5 years. FRAMES stands for Fiber reinforced thermoplastics manufacturing for stiffened, complex, doubled curved structure.

Infographics carbon footprint
Infographics to Carbon footprint / Figures provided in 2019 by ATAG Image: Heraeus Noblelight

Torsten Jenek Head of Innovation Optics and Flash at Heraeus Noblelight commented: “Heraeus acknowledges its environmental responsibility. Carbon composites contribute to more sustainable air travel and the reduction of CO2 footprint. Heraeus’ humm3 technology is perfectly suited to scale carbon composite Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) processes to large volumes required for future aircraft. Heraeus is proud to be part of that.”

Expansion in passenger traffic has presented many new opportunities to the airline industry whilst also presenting the industry, the challenge of reducing their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Commercial fleets are aging, and the demands of operators, passengers and legislators are driving improvements in aircraft efficiency and comfort. The fuselage of the next generation of large passenger aircrafts will rely on the benefits of thermoplastic composites. Improved lightweight composites that incorporate strength and toughness, recycling potential and faster production cycles will enable the capacity to meet the future aviation challenges.

Composites are increasingly being used in the aerospace industry, as they help contribute to lighter aircraft and consequently help reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The manufacturing of complex forms of aircraft rear end section with continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastics still poses a considerable challenge of high processing temperatures, raw material costs, complex temperature-controlled tooling and evolutive cross section.

The main objective for the FRAMES project is to validate and assess a manufacturing approach of an integral thermoplastic rear end with critical design features. Key technologies developed within FRAMES project will then be deployed into mid-scale advanced rear end demonstrator manufactured by the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), part of a Clean Sky 2 technology platform for large passenger aircraft. The consortium is seeking to bring reliable and competitive industrial solutions for intelligent heating systems for automated lay up. Efficient stiffeners production process and advanced heating tooling.

Heraeus Noblelight will be leading the development of a combined optical-thermal simulation tool for fiber placement with a Xenon Flash heating device such as humm3, enabling fast lay up.

ESTIA-Compositadour will lead the project, perform fiber placement trials and support the DLR during manufacturing and delivery of rear end demonstrator.