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Posted: Mar 7th, 2013
NanoCelluComp project publishes 4th newsletter
(Nanowerk News) The fourth newsletter (pdf) from the NanoCelluComp project is now available to download, which provides an update on work in the project, which is now entering its final year, as well as recent news and publications.
The overall aim of the NanoCelluComp project is to develop a technology to utilise the high mechanical performance of cellulose nanofibres, obtained from food processing waste streams, combined with bioderived matrix materials, for the manufacture of 100% bio-derived high performance composite materials that will replace randomly oriented and unidirectional glass and carbon fibre reinforced plastics in a range of applications including transportation, wind turbines, biomedical, sport and consumer goods. More specifically, the project aims to develop a manufacturing process to form a 100% bio-composites with controlled alignment of the native modified cellulose nanofibres and evaluate these process with regard to the physical and mechanical performance of produced materials and suitability for use by industry via existing composite processing technologies. The project will also study the sustainability of the process and materials (nanocellulose bio-composites) in terms of environmental impacts and cost compared to existing materials, namely, carbon fibre reinforced plastics and glass fibre reinforced plastics.
The new technology will include two key stages:
liberation of cellulose nanofibres from vegetable food waste and combining the nanofibres with polysaccharides in a single process to form a 100% bio-composite and
orientation of cellulose nanofibres and compounding the composite in a form easily usable for established technologies, e.g. in the form of bio-prepregs, as composite fibres suitable for bonding with a bio-resin or as woven materials suitable for impregnation with a bioresin
The development of the technology components will be based on the principals of green chemistry and green engineering and aim to achieve the Technology Readiness Level 6 (a prototype demonstration in a relevant environment) by the end of the project.
The new materials will have the environmental benefits of existing natural materials such as wood, however, the properties and performance will be superior because of the higher concentration and optimised structural organisation of the of nanocellulose. The substitution potential of the new materials shall be investigated in a systematic way. The environmental sustainability benefits and risks will be quantified throughout the full product life cycle for selected products, where the new material may substitute for carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) and glass fibre reinforced plastics (GFRP). Environmental health and safety issues will be considered for the full product life cycle of the selected products.
In addition they will not utilise land that could be used for food crops as they are derived from waste materials. By focusing on vegetable waste streams, as the starting materials for the extraction of nanocellulose the project aims to ensure that in the future land is not taken away from food production (unlike hemp and flax) in order to produce raw materials for these biocomposites.
The NanoCelluComp project will significantly contribute towards both the European policy on energy and economic, environmental, social and other impacts expected by European community. In particular, the new technology produces significant breakthrough in materials technology because it will:
increase the sustainability of high performance composite materials by using low value vegetable food processing waste (thus not competing with resources for food production, as many bio-fuels do). The global resources of vegetable waste are enormous and therefore the new technology will provide a strong opportunity for developing countries around the globe to be involved in composite production without needs for large investment
reduce the demand of scarce or non-environmentally friendly raw materials by replacing glass and carbon fibres and synthetic polymers with bio-derived nanocellulose and polysaccharides
reduce the energy consumption and use of volatile solvents in polymer composite production processes
decrease the amount of non-eco waste materials by providing a degree of biodegradability for new composites
The project will also contribute towards the expected economic impacts by offering the flexible and energy efficient polymer processing technology platform which will benefit the entire plastics industry, and especially plastics converters and composite manufacturers. It will enhance energy and materials efficiency and enable a range of GFRP and CFRP to be replaced with new 100% sustainable engineering materials for applications in transportation, building & construction, wind turbine, sport and many other applications.
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