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High performance composites for demanding high Temperature applications

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Total project cost
€847 658
EU Contribution
€635 608
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Vehicle design and manufacturing (VDM)
Transport mode
Airborne icon
Transport policies
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Call for proposal
Link to CORDIS

One of the major limitations of polymeric composites for structural applications was the ability of the matrix to withstand and maintain load transfer capability at high temperatures. The current project, HicTac, addressed this drawback and aimed at the development of composites capable to withstand temperatures above 360 degrees.

The technical strategy was to continue the development of polyimide (PI) based chemistries. Such development was already ongoing at one of the partners, Nexam AB – a company that develops and produces high temperature polymers and chemistries. Effort was spent on adapting and proving that such polymers can be used for manufacturing composite samples and simplified composite structures.

This development was performed at Swerea SICOMP AB - research institute devoted to development of composite material technologies. The properties of the composites material were thoroughly characterised in terms of mechanical properties under environmental loadings. The project also included development, manufacturing and testing of simplified but relevant sub-elements as well as manufacturing of a certain number of aerodynamically shaped parts.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission
Type of funding
Public (EU)
Specific funding programme
JTI-CS - Joint Technology Initiatives - Clean Sky
Other Programme
JTI-CS-2012-2-SAGE-03-014 Weight saving through used of CFRC components in high temperature application (=>360oC) for efficient aero-engine design


Executive Summary:

Although ceramic and metal matrix composites can be used at several thousand degrees, there is great interest and strong incentives to use polymeric composites in high temperature applications since polymeric composites are more lightweight, have better fatigue properties and are more ductile.

The overall objective of the current project responded to this industrial need through development of a cost effective organic matrix resin with 360°C temperature capability as well as proving its feasibility in carbon fibre manufacturing. The composite system should hence exhibit both robust performance and composite processing characteristics that ultimately enabled high rate production of carbon fibre reinforced organic matrix composite components. Possible applications of this technology are the vanes at the first stage of an IP/LP Compressor or other lightweight parts of next generation aeroengines. Although not particularly addressed in the project it was foreseen that such temperature resistant and lightweight parts will be of key importance to realise next generation’s high by-pass ratios aeroengines.

Two partners, Swerea SICOMP and Nexam Chemicals, were participating in the project.

The initial part of the work was devoted to develop and define of polymer formulations, materials, manufacturing methods as well as design and planning of tests. Already early in the project it was decided to develop a new phenylethynyl terminated thermosetting polyimide formulation particularly tailored to work for so-called resin transfer moulding (RTM) processing of carbon fibre reinforced composites. A major challenge with such system was to tailor the formulation so that the temperature performance (glass transition temperature, Tg, above 360°C) could be achieved for a material with sufficiently low melt viscosity and appropriate curing characteristic. Nexam were successful in their efforts and developed a resin formulation, currently available to the market under the tradename NEXIMID® MHT-R. Development of RTM-manufacturing technologies required to manufacture these high temperature resins were successfully in parallel at the other partner in the project, Swerea SICOMP. To our knowledge, very limited efforts have been done in this aspect previous. This part of the work included tailoring of manufacturing schemes and practical procedures that enables RTM manufacturing at temperatures in the range between 250- 370°C.

The developed resins and manufacturing procedures were used to prepare laminates and coupons for mechanical and thermal characterisation. It was found and reported that the developed composites were of high general quality, they exhibited low void contents and few manufacturing induced cracks. Manufacturing induced cracks can often be an issue with polymer composites manufactured at high temperature due to high internal stresses due to thermal mismatch between fibres and matrix during cooling down from the cure temperature. Glass transition temperatures at around 370°C were achieved with the standard curing schedule used in the project. Mechanical testing was performed at various temperatures and after different environmental exposures such as thermal oxidative ageing and thermal cycling.

Eventually the material and manufacturing concepts were proven through successful development and manufacturing of demonstrators. The demonstrator component was selected and developed with input from aeroengine companies and was an about 300 mm x 150 x 30 to 3 mm large component with blade-like geometrical features. The demonstrator was manufactured using RTM.

The successful development and demonstration of durable high-temperature polymers and composites and the associated manufacturing technologies within the framework of HicTac is provides a key technology that enables wider use of lightweight technologies and polymeric composites in aero engines in general and in high by-pass ratio engines in particular.

The success of HicTac can, in the light of the above, have strong impact on aviation, the possibility to meet the visions of ACARE and more specifically to meet the targets of Clean Sky.

The measures taken by HicTac to promote and facilitate highest possible impact of the work have been to continuously work and communicate project results with the European aero engine and component producers, Rolls Royce and GKN Aerospace, involved in the program. Information about the new resin formulation, NEXIMID® MHT-R, was communicated through press releases and via the available marketing channels of the partners. In addition to this the project has communicated results through participation at scientific conferences in the area (six conference presentations). Two to three manuscript aimed at submission to scientific journals is currently under preparation.


Lead Organisation
Rise Sicomp Ab
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€534 408
Partner Organisations
Nexam Chemical Ab
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€299 954
Nexam Chemical Ab
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€101 200


Technology Theme
Composite materials
Ultra High Temperature Ceramics and Ceramic Matrix composites (CMC)
Development phase
Demonstration/prototyping/Pilot Production

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