NCC Core Programme 2023: Industrial Technologies for Tomorrow

30 October 2023

The National Composite Centre’s (NCC) Core Programme 2023 will continue advancing key technologies and capabilities to enable industry to take advantage of advanced materials as they strive for net zero practices.

With the technical direction steered by the NCC’s Tier 1 Members, the projects continue to push the boundaries of composites use and recycling, with a focus on circularity and sustainable manufacturing processes. Energy transformation will also be on the agenda, with the further development of both cryogenic and pressure storage systems for hydrogen.

Digital manufacturing will also be explored, as will the ability of composites to withstand harsh environments.

At the culmination of this year’s programme, Tier 1 Members will access research outputs over 15 times the value of their contribution through the collaborative nature of the programme. Tier 2 and Associate Members of the NCC can also access Core’s leading-edge research, with more information available here.

To maximise impact, the Core programme remains open for industry and RTO engagement. For more information on any of this year’s Core Programme projects – and how your organisation can get involved – please contact Richard Grainger and Roger Walker.


  • Composites for Cryogenic Applications
    • Composite liquid hydrogen tanks and pipes are needed to enable the transition to net zero. The design toolsets, test methods, and test data to understand material behaviour at ambient and cryogenic conditions has been pioneered at the NCC. This project will further push the boundaries of this capability in the UK, developing tests, modelling and setting the standard for design methods.
  • H2 Permeability
    • Permeation in hydrogen pressure systems represent a challenge for the safety and economy of hydrogen infrastructures. Whilst thermoplastic composites can offer operational and technical advantages over steel, hydrogen permeation through these polymers is not well understood. Prediction of permeation can enable more robust design and increase confidence in deployment of composites in the hydrogen economy. The project is aimed at predicting the permeation of hydrogen in prototype pressurised systems as well as fully landscaping the commercially available tools for design.


  • Thermoplastic Composite Recycling
    • Developing end-of-life recycling routes for thermoplastics is critical to reducing the environmental impact of industry. This project will push forward the development of a fully capable supply chain to increase confidence in the supply, availability and performance of recyclates.
  • Reclaimed Fibre Handling
    • Research conducted into composites recycling have not fully addressed concerns around the fibre handling properties of recovered fibres, in terms of quality, consistency and surface chemistry. This project will salvage fibres from end-of-life CFRP parts and characterise the fibres to understand the potential value of reclaimed fibres.
  • Recycling Composites Manufacturing Waste
    • The aerospace and defence industries create an estimated 46 kilotonnes  per year of composite manufacturing waste, however some of this material could be used to create high performance products rather than being sent to landfill. The NCC has shown how this type of waste stream can be put through a FPP  process and will be further developing this process.
  • Automated Deposition of Recycled Prepreg tapes
    • The transition to net zero will require the incorporation of recycled or reclaimed carbon fibres. Additionally, next-generation aircraft will need more efficient, lighter components, requiring complex load paths while still maintaining high-rate production. Automated recycled prepreg tape layup has been demonstrated at the NCC, and this project will further demonstrate complex steered paths to create representative geometries.
  • Supply Chain Sustainability Data Management
    • The early decisions made when a product is being designed have major implications on its full-life impact on our planet. This project will expand on last year’s work to deliver Design for Net-Zero and Design for End-of-Life strategies, and a Design for Sustainability handbook.
  • Sustainable Consumables
    • Consumables used in composite manufacturing contribute a significant portion of the environmental impact of composite products. They are often made from non-renewable sources, so the single use strategy currently implemented is not a sustainable future. This project will review the approaches and available technologies to drive towards a circular economy in alignment with waste hierarchy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.


  • Robust Bondline Substantiation
    • A continuation of last year’s project surveying the options for modelling of thick bondlines, this project will delve deeper into benchmarking these methodologies to substantiate bonded designs with defects and fatigue crack growth.
  • Continuous fibre AM
    • A significant database of properties was developed in last year’s project from many competing additive manufacturers who have designed continuous fibre systems. This will be built on here by designing, manufacturing and testing demonstrator components for relevant applications.
  • Immersive Work Environment for Complex Shapes
    • To alleviate the process variation associated with manual composite layup the Immersive Workbench has been developed by the NCC to augment a technician performing layup with guidance and verification technologies, reducing the training burden and cost of non-quality. Further enhancements will be made to the current workbench to improve the handling of complex surfaces.

Harsh Environments

  • Fire Resistant Structural Composites
    • Composites are increasingly used in applications where fire incidents pose a significant risk to structural integrity. Work to date has focused on coupon testing, but this follow-on project aims to apply this at a component level and fire test structures in extreme environments.
  • High Temperature, Low Dielectric Composites: Radomes
    • The NCC has optimized the manufacture of a high temperature, low dielectric thermosetting polyimide resin system which is capable of unusually high temperatures. Building on this high-temperature injection technology, radomes have been identified as a key application for this technology, and work will be undertaken to further test and demonstrate this.

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