Equipment and facilities
Bristol Composites Institute has world class experimental lab facilities within the Queen’s Building at the University of Bristol enabling cutting edge research in advanced composite development, manufacturing and testing. The Faculty of Engineering laboratories house a wide range of composites-specific equipment, with additional large scale equipment (including a highly instrumented research autoclave and a CT scanner) located at the National Composites Centre. In 2012 it benefitted from a £3.1m EPSRC grant for equipment for advanced materials research and in 2014 from a £700k EPSRC grant for equipment for the Centre for Doctoral Training and Industrial Doctorate Centre. A dedicated technical support team provides experimental assistance and equipment training for members of the Institute carrying out research in the labs.
The Alicona Infinite Focus Microscope uses advanced focus algorithms to map and model the 3D surface features of specimens allowing surface profiling and roughness determination.
High Speed Cameras
We have several cameras capable of filming instantaneous crack propagation, impact events, or almost any other failure mode during testing. The two Photron FASTCAMS SA-Z are capable of megapixel resolution up to 21,000 frames per second, and a potential maximum frame rate of one million fps.
The LBBC autoclave based in the Composites laboratories, is 2m x 1m, can go to 7 bar and 200°C and has a cooling system. The ASC Econoclave based at the NCC, is 2m x 3m, up to 10 bar and 250°C. This is highly instrumented with the ability to monitor several sensors such as cure using DC and dielectric techniques, strain monitoring and thermal imaging.
Tensile Testing Machine and Environmental Chamber
We have a range of static and fatigue test machines with a load capability from 10 N up to 6 MN. This allows us to test a huge variety of structures in tensile, compressive, or flexural loading. We also have the ability to perform tests at elevated temperature.
A multi-format coherent receiver is developed for advanced modulation format signals, including PM-QPSK, PM-16QAM, etc. Self-developed digital signal processing algorithms provide offline processing feature with an intuitive interface. The receiver with a 4-channel 80Gs/s real-time oscilloscope can receive optical signals up to 400Gbit/s (50Gbaud PM-16QAM). In addition, receiver-side monitoring technologies are under-developing to provide monitoring functions without extra hardware investments. Automatic OSNR vs. BER characterization platform enables fast transmitter test.
The Instron Dynatup 9250HV impact tower is an important piece of equipment for simulating controlled and specific impacts that composite materials may be subjected to in service, and is capable of energies up to 800J. Subsequent testing allows for compression after impact strength to be determined.
Digital Image Correlation (DIC)
Digital Image Correlation allows full strain mapping of specimens under load and full 3D measurement of deformation or deflection. Our systems, LaVision StrainMaster 3D DIC and Dantec Q-400 can be integrated with our High Speed cameras to allow determination of strain or deflection over very short time scales.
Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
Our scanning electron microscope (Hitachi TM3030Plus tabletop Microscope) is optimised for quick and easy imaging up to x30,000 magnification. This allows fibre surfaces and fracture planes to be analysed in great detail.
Video Gauge System
We make extensive use of our three Imetrum optical based extensometer systems to allow remote point tracking of specimens for strain determination or deflection measurements.
Ultra High Speed Video
Our Kirana-05M Ultra High Speed Video camera capable of capturing 180 frames of images at speeds up to 5,000,000 fps.