In the construction industry, a special type of self-healing concrete got a lot of recognition for what it could mean for infrastructure maintenance. Now, the aviation industry may have gotten its own version of this development with a self-repairing substance that could be applied to airplane wings, and essentially “heal” the tiny scratches that sometimes amount to serious problems in flight. With this new substance, which has been developed by a group of UK researchers, wind turbines and airplane wings, as well as a range of other structures and products, could be made stronger and more secure with just the addition of a special coating.
“It works like this. Tiny spheres of liquid are embedded in the airplane wing. If the wing gets damaged, the spheres in that location break, and the liquid inside (a carbon-based substance) spills out to fill the ‘wound’. Then, other chemical catalysts in the wing harden the liquid, filling in whatever crack or damage occurred.”