Composites Materials Cluster

A major aim for composite materials research in the Bernal Institute is to help develop new industry in Ireland based on our new IP. To meet this aim the Composites cluster will focus on two main application areas: renewable energy and sustainable aircraft transport. Research will focus on three areas that involve a combination of material development, manufacturing technology and design methods where each will be pursued in balance and harmony with each other so that equi-fidelity contributions to technology are made. Considering renewable energy Bernal is already pursuing the development of new carbon fibre materials from sustainable resources (lignin) and once sufficiently largescale production is reached, composites will be developed with thermoplastic matrices from natural, sustainable supplies. Regarding manufacturing and design methods research they both contribute in a  complementary manner to application areas, i.e. renewable energy and sustainable transport. We will develop new IP in composites manufacturing technology that will help reduce the cost of energy for wind turbine blades and lead to cheaper, better-performing aircraft (less fuel burn). Design methods will focus on advanced stress analysis development and subsequent tool development that exploits our new combination of materials and manufacturing technology. The Bernal Institute will encourage a combination of spin-outs, start ups and overseas companies to locate in the Shannon region to exploit our academic IP.

Key areas of research and competencies within the Composites Cluster include:

  • Molding
  • Adhesion and Joining
  • Carbon Fibre Development and Layering
  • Processing of Thermoplastics
  • Modelling and Stimulation
  • Mechanics
  • Material Optimization
  • Digital Manufacturing
  • Morphing Composite Structures

Prof Paul Weaver

Bernal Chair Composite Materials and their Structures
SFI Research Professor

Paul is the Bernal Chair of Composite Materials and their Structures at the University of Limerick; SFI Research Professor; Professor of Lightweight Structures at the University of Bristol; Director of Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science (ACCIS) Centre for Doctoral Training; Director of the Vestas Wind Systems Preferred Partnership in Composites; Director of the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s Wind Blade Research Hub and a current Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award holder.

Paul is an authority in the field of structural mechanics for composite materials, a pioneer in the emerging field of morphing composite structures, and an expert in the structural mechanics of buckling and postbuckling of optimised composite structures.  He has also contributed to the development of a novel manufacturing technology for composites (Continuous Tow Shearing).