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NPL supports turbocharging the transformation of metals to decarbonise aviation

Working with NPL, TISICS is pioneering a new class of materials to accelerate the transition to Net Zero

As part of its Measurement for Recovery (M4R) programme, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is working with TISICS, an SME based in Farnborough, who are pioneering a new class of materials.

On current aircraft fleets, an estimated 3.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions would be saved annually, by applying this technology across the landing gears alone. That is equivalent to the amount of CO2 absorbed by 4.5 million acres of mature forests in a year.

TISICS transforms metals into composites to give them increased mechanical, thermal and long-lasting performance at a fraction of their original mass. Their technology employs silicon carbide (SiC) monofilaments, with the same width as human hair, to give the new components extraordinary properties. The monofilaments are produced at TISICS using a manufacturing process, capable of producing multiple kilometres a day at current pilot capacity.

The TISICS process relies on advanced reactors that push the limits of chemical vapour deposition. Inside the reaction chambers, tungsten wire is heated to 1000 °C by the application of 5 kV in an atmosphere of highly reactive gases to deposit SiC at 8 m/min. Accelerating the process will increase productivity and reduce the consumption of chemical feedstocks and electricity. Further reducing the emissions footprint of the resulting aircraft.

Recent work on faster production rates depends on detailed knowledge of the microstructure at the nanometre scale, which requires access to cutting-edge specialist equipment. NPL, as part of its Measurement for Recovery (M4R) funded by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), is providing Tip Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS) measurements and access to NPL’s science experts and unique facilities.

The TERS technique that has been developed by NPL is capable of characterising materials with nanometre accuracy (< 50 nm spatial resolution). TERS overcomes the micrometre-scale resolution limit typically achieved by Raman spectroscopy, resolving structures that are critical to the performance of TISICS’s monofilaments.

In this ongoing M4R project, NPL is applying TERS to study the chemical and structural changes within SiC monofilaments produced at increased processing speeds. Increasing the production rate is essential to meeting the growing need for lightweight metal composites to support an expanding number of green applications.

The UK government highlighted its commitment to ‘accelerating the decarbonisation of transport’ in its recent Net Zero strategy and is increasing investment in science and innovation that help commercialise low and zero emission technologies.

Stephen Kyle-Henney, TISICS – Managing Director said:

“Accelerating innovation in this unique UK technology will enable TISICS to optimise our metal composite production for planes, spacecraft and electric vehicles. By working with experts at NPL we are developing the measurement techniques necessary to do this. Thanks to the support provided by the NPL via the M4R programme TISICS can continue to grow, create high skilled jobs in R&D and engineering, and innovate post-COVID.”

Dr Sebastian Wood, Senior Research Scientist, NPL said:

“I am really excited to be working closely with TISICS and using our unique nanoscale characterisation capabilities to help them scale-up manufacture of their product and address the net zero challenge.”


10 Nov 2021