Project budget4 129 325 €
ERDF amount2 477 595 €
There is a growing demand for composites for applications in a marine environment due to the growing markets for fish & seaweed farming, energy harvesting, boats, pontons, anchoring and buoy elements, etc. (cfrs Solent LEP – Innovation strategy 2016 , The blue cluster, Flemish spearhead cluster). The reduced weight and relative low cost make these materials very interesting for these appalications. At present only petrol-based composites are applied, but concern is growing about the long-term ecological impact of these materials. Litter and microplastics are contaminating the sea, having a detrimental impact on sea-life (cfr Flemish action plan against litter in sea). Therefore, renewable materials should be developed; reducing the depletion of the fossil-based materials, limiting emission of greenhouse gases and reducing ecotoxic impact on the environment. At the same time, the materials should meet the highest technical performance and withstand longterm harsh sea environment including mechanical forces, aggressive environment, intense UV light etc. Meeting this duality is a major challenge.
SeaBioComp wants to deliver demonstrators of innovative biobased thermoplastic composites with;
- At least equivalent mechanical properties to oil-based alternatives
- Application dependent, tailored durability (2 to >20 years)
- Reduced CO2 emission (30%)
- Reduced ecotoxic impact due to microplastics and leachates
Overall the ecologic impact should be reduced by >50% compared to conventional oil-based counterparts. This should lead to a shift in mindset along the value chain, that biobased composites offer a realistic alternative for their oil-based counterparts. As a consequence, the implementation of the bioeconomy concept for marine applications can be activated and implemented by a multitude of especially SME companies. Public authorities can take the proven advantages into account for legislation and public procurement.
Outputs in terms of novel thermoplastics biocomposites:
- 3 semi-industrial demonstrators of thermoplastic biocomposites with tailored durability, each representing a different composite production technique
- Pilot production equipment for large scale additive manufacturing of fibre-reinforced thermoplastic biocomposites and prove the potential by generating 1 semi-industrial demonstrator
Outputs in terms of optimised analytical protocols:
- Characterisation protocol for the tailored, long-term durability of the formed demonstrators in a marine environment
- Characterisation protocol for the improved ecotoxicity of the formed demonstrators in a marine environment
These protocols will be used to prove the reduced ecological impact of the developed biocomposites on a marine environment and serve as a benchmark for future regulations and standardized protocols for public authority.
SeaBioComp will distribute this information through the formation of a collaborative transregional cluster promoting a closer, more effective and operational cooperation among the key stakeholders within the bio-economy (Key Enabling Technology) and, more specifically, biocomposites for marine environment.
Cross border approach
Top expertise in the domains of biopolymer formulation and textiles (Centexbel & CETI), composite formation (ARMINES/IMT-Lille Du, UPlymouth & PolyProducts BV), durability tests in sea environment and ecologic impact (UPortsmouth, VLIZ & IFremer) is available in a number of renowned institutes along the “2 seas area”. For each domain at least 2 institutes from different regions were selected for strengthening the cross-border cooperation and bringing together the required expertise essential to realise the defined outputs in this multi-disciplinary development. Associations (Euramaterials, MSE, The blue cluster, Werkendam maritime industries, British Marine) public authorities (Rewin, Ovam) and private companies (Sioen, Decathlon, Safilin, Flipts & Dobbels, DeKlerkWaterbouw) representing the different regions are completing the consortium. This strengthens the collaboration, facilitates the dissemination and cross-border industrial developments and will contribute to the change of mind set towards the biobased economy, supported by public procurement, standardisation and legislation.
The first reporting period focussed mainly on the dissemination tools, resulting in a very quick start of the dissemination activities using the designed logo, website, invited presentations on events/workshops across the entire 2 Seas region and beyond. SeaBioComp press releases were also readily picked up by several journals, both printed and online, with a variable focus from marine applications and aquaculture to textile and bio-based industry, allowing SeaBioComp to reach many different sectors. Finally, The SeaBioComp website is regularly updated with news items, relevant events and promotion for the Interest Group, attracting over a 1000 visits each month attributing to the rapidly growing interest group with currently 60 regsitrations containing parties from the entire triple helix combining academia, industry and public authority.
From the technical aspect, the consortium cooperated to decide on the preferred bio-based resourced including the polymers, monomers and natural fibre to be the focus during the SeaBioComp project. This close cooperation already led to interesting new partnerships including the INTERREG FCE project INdIGO and further collaboration between DeKlerk Waterbouw and PolyProducts.
Finally, the additive manufacturing equipment that was recently installed at our partner PolyProducts was adapted for the processing of biopolymers sooner then expected, already producing the first proof-of-principle bio-based demonstrators.