Manned and unmanned aircraft are commonly manufactured from lightweight composite materials, replacing heavier metallic aircraft materials. Here, we describe a collaborative industrial-academic effort to develop novel microvascular composites that offer thermal and structural multifunctionality via embedded micro-capillary array-based heat exchangers for thermal management embedded within aerospace-grade carbon prepreg material. The current research establishes a route to create prepreg materials suitable for heat exchanger network manufacture by automated fiber placement processes. Potential network geometries are investigated with analytical fluid models to predict flow characteristics and heat distribution for pre-defined heat exchanger configurations within a carbon composite panel. Based on these predictions, two geometries are fabricated for thermal management experiments. The mechanical effect of the embedded microvascular networks on the panel structural properties is also investigated analytically.

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