ESTELLA project kick-off meeting

Last July 5th, the ESTELLA consortium met in Brussels to kick-off the project. All partners presented their role and they discussed the details of the implementation of the work plan for the following 42 months of research.

The ESTELLA is an ambitious initiative that proposes an innovative solution to improve the recyclability of poorly recyclable materials, specifically thermoset composites. This will involve the design of novel thermosetting biocomposites (epoxy and natural fibres) with inherent recyclability. This will be achieved thanks to the introduction of the Covalent Adaptive Network (CAN) that will allow the resin (reprocessed or repolymerised into new products) and fibres to be recycled.  The recyclability of the composites developed will be evaluated by means of current mechanical, chemical and biological processes adapted to these new materials. And they will be validated through the manufacture of prototypes for the construction and leisure/mobility sectors.

The ESTELLA consortium has 13 partners from 9 European countries as well as Slovenia, Poland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Denmark, Germany and Norway. Soon our project website will be up and running!

Official opening of the OSIRIS project

OSIRIS is an ambitious national project whose main objective is to promote a strategic cooperation in recycling and recovery technologies to improve the circular economy of composites and complex plastic materials with high added value, a work that began last January.

This three-year project in which four Technology Centers participate: AIMPLAS (Technological Institute of Plastics), AITEX (Textile Research Institute), CIDAUT (Foundation for Transport and Energy Research and Development) and GAIKER (GAIKER Foundation), is financed by the CDTI (Centre for Industrial Technological Development), through the Ministry of Science and Innovation, in the context of the grant of aid for Technological Centers of Excellence “Cervera” (CER-20211009).

The consortium is working together, sharing experiences, solutions and good practices that contribute to improving recycling technologies for composite and complex plastic materials. Technologies in which the members of the consortium have been working in recent years and their corresponding results have allowed them to be recognized as “CERVERA Centers of Excellence”. The OSIRIS NETWORK, formed by these excellent Technological Centers, has the objective of positioning itself as a reference network both nationally and internationally, leading to the growth of the R+D+i projects and technology transfer to the business and industrial fabric.

To achieve this objective, the network is centred on three strategic technological approaches:  technology for waste recycling, recovery of intermediate products and post-processing of intermediate products into final products. On the advances of these scientific bases, led by more than 84 researchers and technicians from the whole network, the strategy of national and international dissemination, the training and the attracting talents, the attracting companies and the planning of new R+D+i projects is supported. All of the above aims to contribute with a global and strengthened vision to the challenges of the present and the future with respect to the recycling of complex raw materials.

All the advances of the OSIRIS NETWORK can be soon followed in the website: www.redosiris.com

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The consortium of Bionanopolys met for the first General Assembly meeting.

Unfortunately, the strike of coronavirus pandemic in Europe made impossible to celebrate a face-to-face meeting. Instead, a virtual General Assembly meeting was carried out on 21st and 22nd September.

Partners discussed the current activities and progress of the project. The meeting had as main aims to monitor and share the results of the tasks carried out in the previous 8,5 months.

Bionanopolys unites European experts in this field to transform these bio-based materials to nano-scale and, moreover, develop an Open Innovation Test Bed (OITB) environment. The aim is to manufacture innovative bionanocomposites from sustainably sourced feedstocks in Europe as well as bio-based nano-products for packaging, textile, agriculture, cosmetics, pharma or food.

For this purpose, Bionanopolys will use high lignocellulosic feedstocks for the production of cellulose nanofibers, cellulose nanocrystals, nanolignin and metallic nanoparticles on the one hand. On the other hand, high sugar content feedstocks will serve for the production of building blocks, organic acids, PHA and active compounds to create nanocapsules.

To speed up the introduction of biobased nano-enabled materials into the market by providing a Single Entry Point (SEP) for stakeholders, Bionanopolys aims at creating a network of 14 pilot plants and their complementary services. In this context, five pilot plants will focus on the development of bionanomaterials from biomass, three pilot plants are dedicated to bionanocomposites and six plants aim at manufacturing bio-based nanoproducts in order to reach a wide range of applications in different sectors. Pilot lines are going to be upgraded and fine-tuned across the entire Bionanopolys value chain.

Thereby, for the first time, Bionanopolys will create an integrated platform of technologies and scientific expertise devoted to the nanotechnology based on bio-based raw materials. This is complemented by a comprehensive portfolio of services for the development and integration of new bio-based nano-enabled products.

Ultrasonic welding of thermoset materials to thermoplastic brackets through films: from flat to round samples

Brackets are small elements used as local links between aircraft structure, systems and cabin. Nowadays, most of the components of the structure are made of polymer composites, the majority of them being formed of carbon fibres reinforced thermosetting matrices. The state-of-the-art techniques for joining brackets or other small functional elements to these composite structural components are based on mechanical fastening and adhesive bonding. These joining processes are time consuming, and add significant labour and tooling costs to the assembly process, even for the attachment of such small components. Moreover, the adhesion strength achieved is often limited requiring dedicated surface treatments to be applied. An additional handicap for a strong adhesive bonding happens when the composite component is painted.

The Bracketweld project aims at contributing to the green and cost-efficient integration of systems and aircraft structures by the development of an innovative technology for the rapid assembly of thermoplastic brackets to thermosetting composite components currently used in aircraft structures. This has been done using the fast and efficient ultrasonic welding technology to assemble thermoplastic brackets to thermosetting composite structural components. As thermosetting materials cannot be welded, a thermoplastic surface media will be strongly attached to the thermosetting composite structure by a co-curing process, being this surface media used as an anchor interface for the latterly welding of the thermoplastic brackets by any fusion bonding technique, and especially by the ultrasonic welding.

The first two years of the Bracketweld project have been focused on the development of an innovative Test Method for the evaluation of different materials compatibility. The proposed welded joint combines a thermoset material with a film and a thermoplastic bracket, while the latter do not necessarily need to be the same material (because of cost or processability issues). This methodology is then the basis of the film quick down material selection ensuring a good level of adhesion with this welding method. This methodology was developed in pararell with the investigation, manufacturing and evaluation of the most appropriate surface media for the specific case under study in this project, including the formulation and development of custom surface medias at CIDAUT. Different material combinations were assessed with the Test Method.

The final year of this project has been devoted to the validation of the developed concepts. Having defined a robust and reliable test method, and chosen a film for the project use case, the validation of the methodology has been upscaled to a single curvature panel, from a machine assisted welding to a manual welding operation, and from room temperature and axial testing conditions to shear and hot/wet environments.

BRACKETWELD Project: successfully ultrasound welding through thermoplastic films

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Bracketweld project has been running for already two years time (see link). During this period CIDAUT has developed a methodology to adjust the welding parameters, and a methodology to evaluate the performance of the welded brackets. In this process, different surface media have been evaluated selecting the most appropriate one based on different criteria.

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The joint between the bracket and the thermosetting composite laminate (having a suitable surface media) will have two joint interfaces: one thermoplastic/thermoplastic interface, developed during the ultrasonic welding process, and one thermoplastic/thermosetting interface, developed during the co-curing of the thermosetting composite laminate with the thermoplastic surface media. Generally, the joint strength of the global bracket-to-component assembly will be limited by the weakest of the two interfaces:

Weld strength at the thermoplastic-thermoplastic interface developed through the ultrasonic welding which depends on the compatibility of the base materials of the thermoplastic bracket and thermoplastic surface media.

Bond strength at the thermoplastic-thermosetting interface developed through the co-curing process depends on the compatibility between the thermoplastic surface media and the thermosetting prepreg.

During the first part of the project, two different test were defined and set up to evaluate these strengths. Additionally, the evaluation of materials compatibility includes complementary laboratory tests like calorimetry (DSC), rheology (MFI) and microscopy that provide valuable information in order to better understand the results from the mechanical compatibility tests

In terms of surface media, different commercial references have been studied; research activities have included the selection/development of a suitable material formulation and the optimization of surface media parameters like thickness and morphology (porosity).

Regarding thickness, the thickness of thermoplastic films was optimized. Regarding morphology, the advantages of using additive manufactured plates were evaluated.

CIDAUT also developed its own surface media to evaluate material blends different from those available commercially.

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