Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Enterprise Awards 2014

Intellectual Property

photo of the lab equipment

Double Beam Shear – lightweight transport technology

Lead academic
Gang Zhou, Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

Advanced composite materials hold the key to lighter, more fuel efficient transport solutions and have the potential to save £ billions. Saving 1 kg of weight per aircraft can reduce CO2 emissions by over 16 tonnes per year (Sustainable Aviation CO2 Roadmap).

Highly regulated industries such as aero and auto must be assured that these lightweight materials can function in the most challenging environments. To know for certain would involve repeatedly testing full-sized composite parts, such as an aeroplane wing, but this is not economically viable. Current standard tests use small pieces of composites to generate data used to design the full-sized composite components. But these tests have a substantial built-in error margin and as a consequence, aeroplane and car components are built with excessive safety margins. A large safety margin due to uncertainties in testing means that components may be heavier than needed, to ensure safety standards are met.

Composite structure expert Gang Zhou has invented a novel testing technology with the potential to measure the interlaminar shear mechanical properties of composite materials with far greater accuracy and reliability than ever before. Double Beam Shear combines a novel apparatus and test method that has demonstrated accurate and reliable results, even when only a very small piece is analysed (6cm x 1cm). 

Technology commercialisation is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and European Regional Development Fund in partnership with Cytec, GKN Aerospace, National Physics Laboratory and Instron. Independently obtained accurate test data has been consistently reproduced; boding well for the ultimate goal to create a new industry standard that will enable companies to develop and rigorously test current and new composite materials.

Double Beam Shear offers the potential for a step change in transport structural design and analysis, material characterisation and component manufacturing to create lighter, more fuel efficient products; offering significant economic and environmental benefit without compromising safety.


  • Key industry partners engaged in technology development – August 2012
  • Accuracy and reliability verified across seven independent test sites – April – September 2013
  • Submitted for ISO approval  - September 2013
  • ISO approval will pave the way for widespread adoption throughout the aerospace, automotive, marine, defence and wind energy industry

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