First flight of the COMAC’s C919 Regional twin jet in ShanghaiAerospace


Applications in this sector are driven by weight reduction, high specific strength, high impact resistance and excellent flame resistance. Key applications include small plane fuselages, helicopter shells and rotor blades, aircraft secondary structural parts (floors, doors, seats, air conditioners, secondary tanks), helmets, radomes and rescue stretchers.

The maiden flight of the COMAC C919 regional passenger jet took place on 5 May in Shanghai. This ‘Made in China’ single-aisle plane can carry up to 168 passengers and is intended to rival Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

It incorporates Solvay’s high-performance structural composite materials in components such as the horizontal stabilizer, rear pressure bulkhead, aileron, flaps, rudder, elevator, winglets, spoiler, wing-to-body fairings and radome.



New automotive applications for composites are increasing every year, driven by benefits such as parts consolidation, weight reduction versus steel, design freedom, high strength and toughness, corrosion resistance, abrasion and high temperature resistance. Low coefficient of thermal expansion, matching steel parts, enables efficient manufacturing process.

According to Mr. Gao Lixin, Deputy General Manager of Chery Automobile Co. Ltd and General Manager of Chery New Energy Automobile Technology Co. Ltd., there is strong need to reduce the weight of both new energy and conventional vehicles in order to meet environmental and performance targets, and carbon fiber composites have an important role to play in this.


Building and construction

Composites are well suited for applications in this market where they deliver the excellent combination of high strength, lightweight, low flammability, durability and good acoustic and thermal insulation. These benefits lead to applications such as reinforced concrete, composite walls, insulation screens, decorative items, swimming pools, roofing panels, door skins and cooling tower components.

An interesting application designed by Guangzhou Kingfa Carbon Fiber Materials Development Co., Ltd. is a highway guardrail made from continuous glass fiber reinforced thermoplastics (CFRTP) instead of steel. It has an energy absorption ratio about 10 times higher than that of metals. After meeting all safety requirements, it is being put to use along the roads of Guangdong and Chengdu Shuangliu.


Electrical and electronics

Applications of composites in the E&E industry are mainly driven by excellent electrical insulation resistance, high dielectric strength, dimensional stability and corrosion resistance. Examples include electrical housings, switch boxes and junction boxes; electrical components such as insulators and spacer bars; and power distribution components.

An interesting example of the latter is a polyurethane composite truss tower head for use on 500 kV power transmission lines, developed by Wuhan University of Technology and Wuhan Nari LLC.  Compared to a traditional power transmission steel-truss tower, this composites structure displays greater electrical insulation performance, smaller size, a shorter cross-arm, anti-icing capabilities and lighter weight. After successful testing, the product has been brought into operation in Dandong City, Liaoning Province.


Industrial equipment

Compared to traditional materials such as aluminum and steel, composites offer greater design freedom, parts consolidation, improved corrosion resistance, reduced weight, and high strength. These benefits enable applications such as industrial gears, sleeves and tubes, gas pressure bottles, computer cases and cell phone shells.

Innovative carbon fiber brackets for gas cylinders designed by Harbin FRP Institute offer a 33% weight saving over metal counterparts. This is the first time that conventional metal parts have been replaced by CFRP for gas cylinder brackets in China. The product meets all mechanical and safety requirements and has been put into full production.


Sports and leisure

Composites are widely used in sporting goods due to their light weight, high strength, design flexibility, ease of maintenance, and durability. Some of the key applications include skis, poles and snowboards, tennis and badminton rackets, bikes, and high-speed racing boats.

An interesting announcement recently made at Heilongjiang University is that Chinese scientists have started to manufacture graphene from corn. This breakthrough could lead to graphene composite materials being made more cheaply, greatly expanding their potential for sporting goods. For example, graphene composites show great potential for bike wheels and wheel brake tracks due to high strength and excellent heat dissipation.


Wind energy

As a proven, effective and environment-friendly source of renewable energy, wind power continues to show phenomenal growth in China. For these applications, composites offer flexible manufacturing, excellent durability and light weight. Wind blades and nacelles have been massive drivers of the growth of composites in China in the 21st century.

Covestro Polymers (China) Co., Ltd recently collaborated with Shanghai FRP Research Institute Co., Ltd to develop a polyurethane wind turbine blade which offers several advantages compared with a conventional epoxy resin blade. These include higher tensile strength, bending strength and impact strength, increased fatigue resistance, a more environmentally-friendly production process (lower VOC), while blade weight can be reduced by 5-10%. The company recently received the important DNV GL certification in China for its newly developed polyurethane resin for these wind turbine blades.


Source: "Overview of the global composites industry" - New edition by JEC Group 


Written by Denzil Walton

Denzil Walton is a technical copywriter, editor and conference reporter. He has over 30 years’ experience writing on a variety of industrial and high-tech topics.


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