New Material Lighter, Stronger Than Carbon Fiber

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Next to advances in engine technology, new materials to make the rest of the aircraft are critical to improving performance and durability of aircraft and Dutch scientists say they’ve hit on a winner. The researchers at the Delft University of Technology said in a recent news release that their CentrAl reinforced aluminum, which is a sandwich of aluminum and composite materials, is not only stronger than carbon-fiber composites, it’s 20 percent lighter and virtually impervious to fatigue. The news release says use of the material could save $100 billion in maintenance and fuel costs in the world-wide aviation industry. The material was developed by the university with help from the Dutch company GTM Advanced Structures and aluminum giant Alcoa. It was unveiled at a conference on the damage tolerance of aircraft structures in Delft last week. The researchers say its main use will be in aircraft wings where weight, strength and fatigue issues are paramount.