Development and demonstrators of durable biobased composites for a marine environment
Priority AxisTechnological and Social Innovation
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.
There is a growing demand for composites for applications in a marine environment due to the growing markets for fish and seaweed farming, energy harvesting, boats, pontoons, anchoring and buoy elements. At present only petrol-based composites are being used. Concern is growing about the long-term ecological impact. There is a need for renewable materials to be developed; reducing the depletion of the fossil based materials, limiting emission of greenhouse gases and reducing ecotoxic impact of microplastics. At the same time, the materials need to meet the highest technical performance and withstand the long term harsh marine environment including mechanical forces, aggressive environment, intense UV light etc. SeaBioComp is developing ‘demonstrator’ bio-based composite alternatives to potentially replace traditional fibre-reinforced composites commonly used in the marine industries. The consortium made based on literature review and test results a selection of the biobased building blocks (monomers, polymers, natural fibers) to be used in the project.
One route that is explored is the use of biobased, self-reinforced thermoplastic polymer composite. Biocomponent biopolymer filaments have been developed and tested for their feasibility in composites formation using compression moulding processes. The compression moulding process is optimased with respect to the impregnation quality and mechanical properties. Secondly these biobased, self-reinforced thermoplastic polymer composite are strengthen by combining them with flax-reinforcement fibres. In situ polymerisation during monomer infusion was tested and showed potential of the acrylic system as “drop in” replacement for thermoset resins. The mechanical, physical, ecotoxicity properties of biopolymers/biocomposites and reference materials were investigated. Micro-plastic formation and ecotoxicity is examined.
A large scale additive manufacturing machine for printing of natural fibre reinforced biopolymers was installed. During tests a new fender design has been developed. Successful initial mechanical tests had been performed.
The SeaBioComp consortium is promoting the project using different communication channels in order to achieve a high awareness of the project which resulted in strong registrations for the online Interest Group. The SeaBioComp website attracts large numbers of monthly visitors. All partners are active in posting newsletter articles, website articles and social media posts.