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New technologies are being created at INEGI to monitor the integrity of adhesives on aircrafts

22 February 2021
Structural adhesives are an increasingly common solution in the aeronautical industry for structures, components and engines that require high quality and resistant connections. These, however, are a challenge for maintenance teams, since not all types of defects present in the adhesive layer are easily detected with current technology.

With this in mind, a team of INEGI's researchers is developing a set of advanced tools capable of detecting, locating and characterizing damage in adhesive joints used in aerospace structures.

More specifically, the team intends to invest in a technology called "Electromechanical Impedance Spectroscopy”, which is based on sensors and electrical signals. Adapted to the peculiarities of the adhesives, this technology should "detect voids, porosities and cracks, and poor adhesion", says António Mendes Lopes, responsible for the project at INEGI.

Preparing the aeronautical industry for the new challenges of air mobility

The use of adhesive connections in this sector is motivated by the need to reduce the weight of the airplane, reduce the carbon emissions of the aircraft and improve the efficiency of fuel consumption.

On the ground or in the air, aircraft structures are continually subjected to stress. The weight of the components themselves, the forces of acceleration and impulse, and factors such as temperature and altitude, result in a gradual deterioration of the parts.

To preserve structural integrity and ensure operational safety, preventive and corrective maintenance is essential. However, as António Tenreiro explains, "the most common tests in this industry, the non-destructive ones, are not prepared for the singularity of defects that can arise in adhesives. In addition, they are expensive, as they require the airplane to be inoperative for a long period of time".

To improve this context, the Institute's team will study the behavior of adhesives in order to create predictive models, which will later be validated in real aircraft structures.