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Unit information: Sustainable Composite Material in 2021/22

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

Description including Unit Aims

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); 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 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 Information

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

Assessment Information


Problem sheet the problem sheet will take the students through a life cycle analysis of a sustainable composite material, contrasting against a non-sustainable alternative. The process will enable students to classify sustainability criteria for material and analyse and quantify the benefit of one material over another as part of the design process (ILOs 1-2).


Essay (100%) the essay will describe a sustainable composite material from a choice of different types, explaining why it is sustainable and contrasting it against other materials in terms of its performance. Students will be expected to debate and discuss the merits of the materials in the context of industrial growth and economic development (ILOs 1-3).


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. AENGM0051).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.