Research team develops composite material with self-healing properties

Fiber-reinforced compounds are used in modern structures such as wind turbines. But they have a crucial weak point. It melts relentlessly over time. It appears that a team of researchers has now come up with an adequate solution to this problem. The composite materials now developed are said to be able to repair themselves, which greatly extends the service life of wind turbines and the like.

Compound material with self-healing powers

It may sound like magic, but it could revolutionize the field of industrial buildings. A team of researchers from Israel and the USA would like to eliminate the crucial Achilles heel from composite materials with reinforced fibers. To understand what this was so far, it is necessary to take a closer look at the structure of the material. Wind turbines and other structures use fibers made from delicate raw materials such as carbon fiber or glass.

To protect it, laminate it with a resistant plastic. However, this flakes off over time, making delicate materials vulnerable again. In order to seal any cracks in the plastic as quickly as possible in the future, a heat healing agent should be used. The research team printed this onto a fiber mat. Combined with heating elements that can heat the fiber mats and activate the healing factor, the structure must be able to heal itself.

Cost-effective solution to the problem

According to researchers from North Carolina State University in Raleigh and the University of Houston as well as the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, the main advantage should be that the repair can be done during the operation. This will be especially important for structures such as wind turbines, as they can continue to produce electricity during repair. Moreover, researchers assure that the raw materials for the healing agent and heating layers are not only cheap, but also readily available. Moreover, this solution must be sustainable.

After all, one healing layer should be able to heal at least 100 cracks. This is what one of the researchers responsible said as part of the scientific paper published in the journal Nature. In this way, it should also be possible to amortize the few additional costs incurred in the production of modern self-healing vehicles. In addition, heating layers can be conveniently used for defrosting. These two factors make fiber-reinforced compounds with self-healing properties interesting for many different areas of application.