Skip to main content

Unit information: Sustainable Composite Material in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Sustainable Composite Material
Unit code AENGM0051
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Steve Eichhorn
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Aerospace Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


The unit will cover the following topics:

Introduction to sustainability; definitions of sustainability; thermodynamics of sustainable development; materials supply and planetary resource; exergy and energy; sustainable materials; oil and its continued use; planetary limitations; materials selection; life-cycle analysis (LCA); basic training on software to carry out LCA (SimaPro), environmental product declarations (EPDs), cellulosic materials and natural fibres; resins derived from natural materials; recycled carbon fibres; all-polymer composites; metals vs composites; waste separation; end-of-life use of composites; in-factory recycling processes; current recycling of composites; composites ‘design’ and sustainability.

This unit aims to enable students to be able to recognise the importance of sustainability in the context of composite materials. The course aims to inform students with a basic knowledge of the definition(s) of sustainability and sustainable materials. Students should then to be able to then classify materials that are used in composites in terms of their ‘sustainability’ to help inform them of the choices available in an increasingly environmentally aware world.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify what constitutes a sustainable material classifying them as a wider range of material types.
  2. Describe what sustainable materials are available for composites and analyse the merits of one material over another.
  3. Critically evaluate the use of sustainability in the context of industrial growth and economic development.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, which may include lectures, practical activities supported by drop-in sessions, problem sheets and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Details

100% Coursework

Reading and References


  • Callum Hill “An Introduction to Sustainable Resource Use” (Routledge, 2011) ISBN-10: 1844079279.
  • Julian Allwood “Sustainable Materials - with both eyes open: Future buildings, vehicles, products and equipment - made efficiently and made with less new material (without the hot air).
  • (UIT Cambridge, 2011) ISBN-10: 1906860076.

Available in Queen’s Building Library (for up-to-date research in the area):

  • “Sustainable Composite Materials for Aerospace Applications” Edited by Mohammad Jawaid, Mohamed Thariq (Woodhead Publishing, 2018)
  • “Green Composites: waste and nature based composites for a sustainable future” Edited by Caroline Baillie, Randika Jayasinghe (Woodhead Publishing, 2017)

Research review papers:

  • Klemm, D. et al. (2011) “Nanocelluloses: A New Family of Nature-Based Materials” Angewandte Chemie (Int. Ed) 50, 5438-5466.
  • Eichhorn, S.J. et al. (2010) “Review: current international research into cellulose nanofibres and nanocomposites” 45, 1-33.
  • Summerscales, J. et al. (2010) “A review of bast fibres and their composites. Part 1-Fibres as reinforcements” Composites Part A 41, 1329-1335.
  • Summerscales, J. et al. (2010) “A review of bast fibres and their composites. Part 2-Composites” Composites Part A 41, 1336-1344.