Airplanes to be built with Carbon Nanotube Composites
As explained earlier, the nanomaterials are lighter, stronger and long lasting than other materials. This advantage has been exercised in replacing the aluminium body of airplanes with composite materials including nanomaterials.
As such a composite material has less weight; the whole body weight of the airplane will almost reduce to half the original weight. This will help in reducing the fuel consumption of the airplane. Another advantage is regarding the change in shape when an accident occurs. When a plane made of aluminium comes in contact with a barrier, a change in shape occurs, which causes serious internal damage. But if a plane made of composite material comes in contact with a barrier, the material will first deform and will suddenly spring back to its original shape. Researchers are trying to conduct several tests to see how much the material can withstand. One test includes the amount of heat transfer that occurs through the material body. To do this, large heat producing systems were installed in many sections of the airplane. High amount of heat was applied and the changes that occur were captured by a heat sensitive camera. The expense for such an experiment is very high as it requires bulky and complex equipments.
If the composite includes carbon nanotubes, the heat response of the material changes. A small electric current will cause a high increase in temperature of the nanotubes. Any internal damages will still change the heat flow, which can be picked up by the thermal camera.
If the experiment becomes a success, we can see airplanes that are made out of a whole new material with better performance and better safety.