How Russia is conquering the composite materials market
Today, the share of Russian companies in the global production of composites is about 1%, and the industry itself is extremely import-dependent. The subprogram for the development of the production of traditional and new materials, which include composite materials, is included in the state program for the development of industry in the Russian Federation, and the roadmap approved by the Ministry of Industry and Trade suggests funding from the federal budget in the amount of 30517110.7 thousand rubles. One of the targets of this program is to increase production in the composite industry to 81.3 billion rubles by 2024.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, more than two hundred enterprises and companies are engaged in the production of composites in Russia today. In 2018, on the initiative of UMATEX (Advanced Materials and Technologies Division of Rosatom State Corporation), an interregional industrial cluster "Composites without Borders" was formed on the territory of the Republic of Tatarstan, Moscow and Saratov regions. The cluster members are the leading industrial enterprises of the composite industry and scientific organizations.
Today UMATEX is the leader in the Russian market in the production of carbon composites and is one of the ten world leaders in the production of a wide range of carbon fiber. Compared with conventional structural materials (aluminum or steel), composite materials based on carbon fibers have extremely high characteristics - strength, fatigue resistance, elastic modulus, chemical and corrosion resistance, several times higher than those of steel, with a significantly lower weight.
The growth potential of the Russian carbon fiber market is estimated at 3 thousand tons by 2025, while today consumption in Russia is ten times less.
At the same time, the development of the industry is limited by a shortage of qualified personnel and weak development of the regulatory framework. The process of certifying a new material for its use in industrial equipment now takes up to three years, so it is very important to radically change the way new standards are developed and make it more compact and faster.
Advantages of composites over traditional materials
Composite materials surpass traditional metal materials in many respects. Microdamages are inherent in traditional materials with a homogeneous structure. In order to get rid of them as much as possible, such materials are used in the form of thin fibers: the thinner the fiber, the fewer defects in its section. These properties of the fiber allow for higher strength and stiffness values. Composite materials are less sensitive to stress concentrators, and the low rate of propagation of fatigue cracks in them provides increased durability of structures made of these materials.
The main advantage of any composite is the ability to independently choose the type of material, orientation and volumetric content of fibers when designing. This makes it possible to obtain structural materials with the functional properties desired for the designer and makes the use of composite materials a very valuable and promising direction in various industries: aircraft and engine building, mechanical engineering, energy, oil and gas and construction industries.
In any areas of industry, one of the main tasks is to reduce the cost of production without losing the quality of products and reduce costs during the subsequent operation of the product.
Thus, the use of polymers and composite materials in a modern car allows you to reduce its weight by 15-30%, and a decrease in weight by 100 kg leads to a decrease in fuel consumption by 0.5 liters or more per every 100 km. Of course, high-tech composite materials are no more economical than steel or aluminum alloy, but they do not require corrosion protection.
It is known that the use of polymer composite materials (CM) in the production of aviation and space technology makes it possible to reduce from 5 to 50% the weight (mass) of the aircraft. World leaders in aircraft construction - Airbus and Boeing corporations actively use composites in their aircraft designs. If in the airplanes of the A-340 and B-777 types in 2000, about 10% of the CM from the weight of the liner was used, then in 2015 this figure was at least 50%. The total share of composites in the MS-21 structure is, according to various estimates, 30–40%.
Applications of composite materials
The areas of using composite materials are practically unlimited. And today CM have found application in many industries.
In mechanical engineering, composite materials are used to create hard coatings on cutting tools and protective wear-resistant coatings on metal surfaces with intense friction. From carbon fiber reinforced plastics in combination with an aluminum honeycomb structure, critical parts and assemblies of space aircraft are manufactured, which are exposed to intense heating and heavy overloads. In military equipment, CM is used in the manufacture of body armor and protection of tanks and helicopters from bullet and shrapnel damage, in the mining industry - in the manufacture of cutters for drilling rocks, and in the processing industry, CM and polymers are used for lining grinders for grinding solids; in turbine construction - to create blades; in the chemical industry - for autoclaves and tanks for storage and transportation of chemical and oil products.
Development of composite materials
The development and creation of parts from composite materials, as well as the development and study of the characteristics of a new material, are a complex of complex and related tasks. The approach to solving such problems is to choose the optimal combination of technologies and materials; carrying out computer modeling of the stress-strain state of the structure and technological production processes; organization of experimental research to determine the initial characteristics of materials. One of the leading Russian aircraft manufacturers recently encountered difficulties trying to accurately simulate the performance characteristics of composite parts before fabrication. Their difficulties stemmed from the more complex nature of the new material, which resulted in an unexpected failure.
The ability to accurately predict the behavior of composites during manufacturing, as well as predict the properties of the finished product, is critical to ensure design confidence, support the right approach from the start, increase the use of composites and accelerate their adoption.
The task of accurate modeling of a composite material is to obtain an accurate description of its composition. Unlike conventional material (such as steel), composite is typically a mixture of fibrous materials of varying thicknesses that can be layered on top of each other to create a single material. The orientation of the fibers in each layer (the direction of the main fiber) differs in terms of the angle, thickness, and material layered above and below. This complexity is offset by the flexibility to locally adjust the stiffness and strength properties in each part.
The engineering problems of composite structures can only be solved through detailed finite element analysis (FEM) and highly specialized modeling tools. Today there are several systems on the market for computer modeling of products made of composite materials and virtual study of CM characteristics.
When working with composites, the study of failures is also different from the study of failures when working with conventional materials. Collectively, engineers analyze local failures to determine where, how, and under what load conditions the failure occurs. Composites can fail in a variety of ways (delamination, matrix destruction, fiber damage due to compression or tension). Assessing complex failure modes is a key challenge in composite design.
Another problem is the explosive growth in the quantity and complexity of data on promising materials. It is difficult to identify and select viable materials and processing options from a rapidly growing set of possibilities. This requires a good database that captures the full range of these capabilities and provides the tools to find the data you need.