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New UCSD Center To Test Aircraft Parts

Aired 9/13/12 on KPBS News.

San Diego is home to a new center that will help researchers better understand the composite materials used to build airplanes.

— The Composites Aviation Safety Center will help researchers test new materials on a scale that they can not right now. It is all designed to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the materials being used to build today's aircraft.

New UCSD Center To Test Aircraft Parts
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The center on the UC San Diego campus will allow scientists to test large aircraft components like wings, fuselage parts and landing gear.

Hyonny Kim, one of the center's lead professors, said it is important to understand the limits of the materials as they get used more.

"A lot of the new aircraft like the Boeing 787 are constructed with carbon fiber epoxy composites, or that type of composite materials," said Kim.

Kim's research involves shooting ice particles at the composites, simulating hail. He uses a gas powered gun to shoot the particles at the material being tested. Researchers are also exploring how carbon nanotubes can strengthen critical areas of a plane.

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