AeroNet Projects: Unique Materials for Aircrafts Get Created at SUSU

AeroNet is a sphere of activity of the National Technology Initiative, the goal of which is creation of new aircrafts. In this field, South Ural State University is implementing many unique projects.

Nowadays, researchers of the SUSU Institute of Engineering and Technology are working on a few fundamental tasks. Among them is creation of new materials and “smart” structures for the aerospace industry, work on development of new aircrafts, and searching for methods of disposal of industrial wastes.

What spheres of activity are included in AeroNet?

Activity of the SUSU Faculty of Aerospace Engineering is divided into 3 main directions. For example, the Department of Aircraft and Automatic Units under the guidance of Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Professor Aleksandr Kartashev, is working on construction of small aircrafts. The Department of Aircraft Engines, the Head of which is Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Missile and Ammunition Sciences, Professor Sergey Vaulin, is making low thrust engines for new aircrafts. The Department of Engineering Mechanics is developing ultra-light “smart” materials for the aerospace industry under the guidance of Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Professor Sergey Sapozhnikov. South Ural State University’s Faculty of Energy and Power Engineering is working on creating more effect energy sources.

It should be noted that the SUSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science also carries out research activity in the AeroNet strategic direction. For example, in order to ensure successful landing of small aircraft on an asteroid, it’s important for the aircraft to be able to “see” the surface. Work on the development of computer vision for choosing a landing zone on a small space body is being completed by the Head of the Department of Information Technology, Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Boris Sukhovilov. Besides, work is being done on development of land-based communications infrastructure and of global air traffic control system. Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Professor Nikolay Voytovich is working on a system ensuring safe landing of aircrafts in difficult weather conditions; and Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Professor Vladimir Shiryaev is improving navigation systems which will be used in space. In addition, the Geoinformation Systems REC performs remote sounding and surface monitoring of the Earth.

Materials with “nervous fibers” are being created

“Today, it is necessary to create structures which would be light-weighted though had the necessary strength and durability and could accurately perform their functions. AeroNet, first and foremost, involves the creation of new materials, because you can’t make a drone out of iron. Composites are the best for this purpose – organic and carbon fiber plastics. SUSU has been working with these materials since 1974, completing orders for businesses of Russia’s aerospace industry or working in the frameworks of federal grants. Over the last five years, employees of our Department have won two large grants from the RSF (Russian Science Foundation) in categories related to development and application of highly efficient composite and ceramic materials in defense structures for naval armored vehicles as well as new composites with controlled nonlinearity of its mechanical behavior and methods of designing elements of aircraft structures out of them. These structures must be “smart”: they have built-in sensors which evaluate their condition, and this is not nearly everything they are capable of,” says the Head of the Department of Engineering Mechanics of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Professor Sergey Sapozhnikov.

In the photo: Sergey Sapozhnikov

Composites are materials which consist, as a rule, of a polymer base, reinforced with high-strength light carbon, glass, or aramid fibers. Carbon fiber has undeniable advantages over other construction materials in terms of stiffness, strength, and density. It is exactly out of these materials scientists create modern manned and unmanned aircrafts. Researchers are facing the task of learning to embed “nervous fibers” into them, which could signal about any impacts on the structure as well as allow workers to evaluate its conditions. Composite smart-structures should be autonomous in order to successfully perform their functions while in deep space.

Embedded sensors, just like nervous fibers of a living body, will gather information, transmit it to a special program – artificial intelligence, which in turn can make a conclusion about the possibility of reliable operation of the structure throughout the set time period. This will practically reduce to zero all serious fatal accidents connected with sudden failure of critical structures. In this matter, researchers will need to work hard to create algorithms and programs for the artificial intelligence, provide it with reliable information on the loads and properties of materials, and train it by the example of past cases.

AeroNet is a complex program targeted at new quality of design, operation, and control over the lifecycle of aircrafts, which also includes solving the issues of disposal of aircrafts dismissed from operation and manufacturing waste. While metal can be melted down, the situation is much more complex with composite materials. In the manufacture of aircrafts, wastes of expensive composites can reach 30-40%. A necessary condition for any project in this field is the rational use of these waste products in other projects.

Viktoria Matveychuk, photos by the author
You are reporting a typo in the following text:
Simply click the "Send typo report" button to complete the report. You can also include a comment.