Nova Graphene Awarded Two Defense Contracts
Global advanced materials firm Nova Graphene recently announced that it was awarded two defense contracts by Canada's Department of National Defense’s Innovation for Defense Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program to develop graphene-enhanced materials. These coatings will be used to protect helicopter rotors from erosion and wear from exposure to sand, ice and water.
According to the company's press release, the first contract award is for the development of graphene-enhanced protective coatings for the entire rotor blade. The second awarded contract is to develop an improved leading-edge protective strip.
“We are honored to be working to provide improved flight capability for helicopters for our military,” said Nova Graphene CEO Paul Beasant. “As our production capability continues to expand, we also look forward to making our products available to our allies, as well as for commercial applications.”
Nova Graphene reports that the ability to fly in degraded visual environments, impaired by rain or sand storms for example, is operationally advantageous, but can result in increased damage to the helicopter, particularly in the rotary wing blades.
Rotary wing blades have a leading edge erosion strip, and when damaged the entire blade needs to be replaced. To prevent this, polymeric and tape coatings can be employed to extend its lifespan in a dry sand environment.
However, according to Nova, these coatings are intended for protection against incidental exposures during landing, takeoff or in light sandy environments, and require frequent touch-ups between flights, increasing the maintenance burden and reducing the availability of the aircraft. Protective coating durability is reportedly key, especially since coating failures cause increased rotor vibrations which impact flight safety can resulting in aborting mission.
Through the IDEaS program, the company says it is using its graphene technologies to provide the means to significantly improve protections for these rotors, thereby increases flight capability while minimizing downtime due to maintenance.