During the recent Farnborough Airshow, aeronautical engineers from the British University of Central Lancashire unveiled the world's first unmanned aerial vehicle, Juno, with a graphene-skinned fuselage.
The 3.5 meter wide aircraft was developed in collaboration with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Sheffield, the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester and the Haydale Graphene Industries holding company. In addition to the graphene sheathing, Juno is additionally equipped with graphene-based batteries and individual printed components.
Graphene, made up of a single atom thick layer of bonded carbon atoms, is not only the strongest man-made material, but also has unique thermal and electrical conductivity.
It was the strength of graphene that interested the developers when creating the fuselage skin of the drone. In addition to its unique strength, graphene is also very light, so by reducing its own weight, aircraft with graphene skin will be able to transport heavier loads over long distances, while consuming less fuel. In addition, due to the unique thermal conductivity of graphene, their body is not subject to icing at high altitudes.
And, finally, the electrical conductivity of graphene will reliably protect the aircraft from the effects of atmospheric electrical discharges. Lightning hitting it instantly dissipates over the entire surface of the fuselage, without causing any harm.
Juno test trials should take place in the next two months.