Engineer Christopher York discovered 24 different families of composites and is now investigating how they can be used beyond the aeronautical industry

Invited by the Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), engineer Christopher York shall be giving a talk about the application of carbon fibre composites in different areas of engineering, on 19 July.  Mr York has dedicated himself to the study of the use of lighter materials in the automotive and aerospace industries. A post-doctoral student at the University of Wales, he discovered 24 different families of carbon fibre composites and is now investigating their use beyond the aeronautics industry.

“Composites have been used as a way of relieving the weight of structures which are normally made of metal. Those which I am developing are aimed at application in the aeronautical area, but their uses are in no way restricted to this area. They can have several different applications. For example, replacement of metallic structures for offshore platforms, or for use in the ducts that transport natural gas, which are metallic and very heavy. I have already identified the possible uses for the aerospace industry, either for the wings of aeroplanes or the propellers of helicopters. However, there are other applications I have not thought about as yet”, the engineer has said.

In his opinion, one can say for sure that, with the replacement of traditional metal structures by other structures made in carbon fibre, it is possible to reduce the weight by 50%. “There is a need to identify which areas need lighter materials. For this reason, it is important to share this information. We are presenting all these concepts so that different people may envisage the applications and uses of these composites”.

To test the concept, Mr York ordered the preparation of samples of carbon fibre sheet for each of the classes of composites that he discovered. “All 24 families or classes are made of carbon fibre. What changes is the position of the fibres within the materials. My samples are laminated sheets of carbon fibre, each made of 4 superimposed laminae. Each lamina brings the fibres facing a given direction. This means the creation of a laminate material with coupled properties – that fold, twist…”, the speaker explains.

Also according to the speaker, each class has its own pattern of behaviour. “There is one that behaves exactly like metal. Another has a different behaviour: in terms of mechanical properties, when one tries to fold it, it responds as if the intention was to twist it. However, in terms of heat properties, when exposed to heat, it behaves just like metal.”

Mr York also states that, prior to his research, only 10 classes of carbon fibre composites were known, and that only two of these original types are used by industry.  “I am here because people want to explore different things. Carbon fibre is very expensive and therefore its use must be worthwhile, from industry’s point of view. In the case of aircraft, it is highly worthwhile. We wish to find out in what other areas this is also the case”.

General information: The talk by Christopher York shall be held at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo, Butantã Campus (Poli-USP), in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, at Av. Prof. Mello Moraes, 2231, in the Mechanical and Naval Engineering Building, room MZ-02, on 19 July at 2 p.m. You may sign up to participate at the link: