JUNO and the team of UCLAN researchers
JUNO and the team of UCLAN researchers

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has introduced the world’s first graphene skinned UAV called Juno. Provided with graphene batteries and 3D printed parts, the Juno is a 3.5m wide aircraft that can counter the effects of potentially dangerous lightning strikes and protect itself against ice buildup during flight.

Engineers from the University of Central Lancashire(UCLan) with the help of University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute(NGI), Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre(AMRC), Haydale Graphene Industries and a range of other businesses have designed this unique unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV).

UCLan engineering students were involved in developing and building Juno. The whole project team serves as a long-term partnership between the University and the organizations. The strategic partnership is set to get stronger with the course of the opened EIC facility in February 2019.

Graphene is a semi-metal and the most powerful material ever tested. It is nearly transparent and conducts heat and electricity efficiently. It is used in fields like medical, chemical and industrial processes. Graphene which is a multifaceted material, is used in making aircraft parts.

UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Manager Billy Beggs said “The industry reaction to Juno at Farnborough was superb about the work we’re doing with many positive feedbacks”.

Graphene use in aircraft possesses various benefits. For example, graphene can help reduce the overall weight of the aircraft to increase the range and potential payload. This is made feasible in Juno since the graphene carbon in the Juno is about 17 per cent lighter than standard carbon fiber.

A representation of the Graphene molecular structure
A representation of the Graphene molecular structure

According to the team, using graphene to build aircraft parts could help the industry to know about several challenges such as overcoming lightning strike, lowering weight to increase range and payload, and protecting aircraft skins against ice build-up.

This technology also has benefits for a huge variety of industries and applications that include large offshore wind turbines, oil and gas, marine and electronics and control systems

Watch a video of JUNO in action: