Soraia Pimenta explains the EPSRC programme ahead of GOCarbonFibre

We caught up with Soraia Pimenta from the Imperial College of London's Department of Mechanical Engineering this week to discuss the EPSRC programme, how it works, technology employed and the "warning" before failure feature.

Q: Can you provide us with your insight, knowledge and experience into the EPSRC programme and how it works?

HiPerDuCT (High Performance Ductile Composite Technology) is a 6-year, £6M Programme Grant awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC, grant EP/I02946X/1), within which the University of Bristol and Imperial College are working together to develop a new generation of ductile composites. To learn more about HiPerDuCT, please visit


Q: What type of technology or process are you using to focus on creating the new composites in the EPRSC programme?

We are using a combination of different approaches to develop high-performance ductile composites:

  • Developing composite architectures that display ductile or pseudo-ductile response to mechanical load and have high strength and stiffness.
  • Using modelling to predict target properties of composite constituents to achieve the best overall material properties.
  • Developing ductile fibres to have high strength and stiffness.
  • Creating the composite constituents which modelling predicts would give the best overall material properties.
  • Combining the constituents and the architectures to create optimised high performance ductile composites.

Q: How does the “warning” before failure feature work?

Conventional composites are very light, stiff and strong, but they usually display no signs of overloading, until they suddenly break with barely no residual load-bearing capability. On the contrary, when metals are overloaded, they typically dent and show a decrease in the load-bearing capacity, which are clear indications that the structure is not safe anymore and needs to be replaced/repaired – and this is an important feature in safety-critical structural applications.

The materials we are developing in the Programme provide some type of warning before failure, either through a change of shape or a truly ductile response. This will make structures more reliable and safer, and potentially even lighter and more damage-tolerant.

Q: What are you most looking forward to hearing about at this year’s EU GOCarbonFibre conference?

My main research interests are modelling structural composites and development of new material solutions, so I am looking forward to hearing from industry about new challenges and trends in manufacturing and design methods. Following my previous experience in several GO Carbon Fibre conferences, I am looking forward to a great event with interesting talks and networking opportunities.