Two South Korean universities develop self-reinforced composite materials

For future means of transportation, such as Urban Air Mobility (UAM), to become a reality, carbon emissions must be reduced while increasing fuel efficiency, and this requires the development of new recyclable materials with excellent mechanical properties. Self-Reinforced Composite (SRC) is not only inexpensive and lightweight but also consists of the same ingredients as reinforced and base materials, which are beneficial to disposal and recycling. For this reason, SRC is attracting attention as a next-generation composite to replace carbon fiber-reinforced composites used in aircrafts.

Two South Korean universities develop self-reinforced composite materials

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Hanyang University announced that Professor Kim Seong-hun of Hanyang University and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST, President Yoon Seok-jin), Dr. Kim Jae-woo of Solutions to Electromagnetic Interference in Future-Mobility (SEIF, KIST), along with Professor Kim Seong-yun of Jeonbuk National University (President Yang O-bong) succeeded in developing a 100% Self-Reinforced Composite using only one type of polypropylene polymer (PP).

Until now, in the process of manufacturing Self-Reinforced Composite, chemically different components have been mixed to function as reinforcing or base materials to improve fluidity and impregnation, so both mechanical properties and recyclability were problems. The joint research team succeeded in controlling the melting point, fluidity, and impregnation by adjusting the chain structure of the polypropylene matrix through a Quad Screw Extrusion (QSE).

Manufacturing Process and Application of 100% Self-Reinforced Composite

The developed Self-Reinforced Composite achieved the highest level of mechanical properties, improving adhesion strength, tensile strength, and impact resistance by 333%, 228%, and 2,700%, respectively, compared to the results of previous studies. When the material was used as a frame material for small drones, it was 52% lighter than the existing carbon fiber-reinforced composite, and the flight time increased by 27%, confirming the applicability of next-generation mobility.

Jang Ji-un, a postdoctoral course researcher (co-lead author) at Hanyang University, said, “Thank you to everyone who helped with the research. I hope to continue to carry out research that can contribute to Korea’s next-generation mobility.” Academic advisor Kim Seong-hun (co-corresponding author) said, “I am happy to communicate with Jeonbuk National University, KIST, Namjun Industrial, Co., and Hyundai Motor Co., to create these valuable experiment results,” adding, “Self-Reinforced Composite materials can lead the next future mobility industry while securing carbon neutral leadership.”

“The 100% Self-Reinforced Composite engineering process developed this time can be applied immediately to the industry, and we will continue to cooperate with the joint research team and industries such as Namjun Industrial Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. to secure the global competitiveness of Self-reinforced Composite,” said Dr. Kim Jae-woo (co-lead author) of KIST about his plans.

Photo: Joint research team. (From top left to right) Kim Seong-hun, professor of Hanyang University, Professor Kim Seong-yun of Jeonbuk National University, Senior Researcher Kim Min-kook of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, (From bottom left to right) Dr. Jang Ji-un of Hanyang University, Ph.D Lee Hye-seong of Jeonbuk National University, and Senior Researcher Kim Jae-woo of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.

More information www.hanyang.ac.kr