With funding from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation funded by a grant from the UK government, a team of researchers from AIM Altitude, Composites Evolution Limited, and Sheffield Hallam University developed a unique thermosetting resin system to be used in aircraft interior parts. The resin is a blend of polyfurfuryl alcohol (PFA) with an additive mix for the production of glass fiber prepregs using a hot-melt process.
The PFA resin base is produced from biomass waste which is readily available at a low-cost and is sustainable. As a result, the nanocomposite material created is safer and cleaner across the product’s lifetime, offering excellent mechanical properties similar to phenolic, but without the toxic phenol and formaldehyde compounds.
In testing, the prepregs exhibit substantially better fire properties than currently used phenolic prepregs. Of interest to commercial aircraft interior designers, the surface finish is outstanding and will permit the use of some new decorative finishes while maintaining the fire-resistant properties.